A separation agreement is a legal document that an employee signs after being laid off or fired from a job. Employers can offer separation agreements for employees who are laid off and fired. In Ohio, employers are not required to provide employees with separation agreements, but many choose to do so. In exchange for signing the separation agreement, the employee must agree not to bring a legal claim against the employer.
This provision is called a release of employment claims. Separation agreements also include specific benefits that the employee will receive in exchange for assigning the agreement. The separation agreement might provide a lump sum of compensation and continued access to health and life insurance benefits for a specific period.
Fighting for the Rights of Employees Offered Separation Agreements
HKM Employment Attorneys have helped many Cincinnati area employees negotiate a better Severance agreement. If you have not been offered a severance agreement, we can negotiate with your employer to obtain a severance agreement successfully.
Taking time to speak to an attorney is worth it because it could help you recover more compensation, helping you as you pursue alternate employment. If you have questions about Severance agreements, contact HKM Employment Attorneys today to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our skilled Cincinnati employment attorneys.
Should I Sign a Severance Agreement?
If you sign the agreement without talking to an attorney, you could end up signing your legal rights away. When an employee signs a separation agreement, they will be required to waive their right to sue their employer for discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, or any other legal claim.
If you have been laid off or fired from your position in Cincinnati and you have been offered a separation agreement, it is crucial that you discuss it with an attorney before you sign. Suppose you were laid off for a wrongful reason, such as in retaliation for filing a discrimination or hostile work environment claim. In that case, you may be entitled to compensation through a lawsuit.
What Issues Should Be Included in an Ohio Separation Agreement?
Generally, there are two main components of a separation agreement. The first component will involve the employee waiving their legal claims that could be brought against the employer. In most separation agreements, the release of claims includes a general waiver of all claims arising from the employment. It is crucial that employees understand that signing the severance agreement will cause them to lose their ability to pursue an employment-based claim against their employer in the future. Common employment claims that an employee waives in a separation agreement include the following:
- Employment law claims for discrimination, sexual harassment, a hostile work environment, retaliation, and wage and hour violations
- Compensation claims for salary, employee benefits, health insurance, retirement benefits, and other types of compensation disputes
- Claims related to interest, attorneys fees, and legal costs
- Workers’ compensation claims
The second component of a separation agreement involves the employer’s obligation to pay a fee in exchange for the employee waiving all legal claims arising from the employment. Again, speaking to an attorney before you sign a separation agreement is important. The compensation your employer offers you could be much smaller than the amount you could pursue in court if you have experienced discrimination or harassment or you have another valid legal claim against your employer. Other provisions that may be included in an employment separation agreement include the following:
- Specific descriptions of company-owned items that the employee needs to return on or before their last day
- The amount of severance pay the company will pay the employee and how it will be paid, whether in a lump sum or disbursements
- A non-compete clause
- A non-disparagement clause
- A confidentiality agreement
Negotiating a Better Separation Agreement in Ohio
A separation agreement aims to help a newly unemployed employee handle the transition from one job to another. However, when a separation agreement is not fair to the employee who is being laid off or fired, it can hurt the employee’s future prospects. For example, when a separation agreement has ambiguous language, the employee may be unable to enforce the agreement and obtain all the compensation to which they are entitled. At HKM Employment Attorneys, we know how to draft clear, robust, and enforceable separation agreements that can stand up to legal scrutiny.
If the agreement has already been written, we can negotiate a better agreement with clear language that protects you. Everything in a separation agreement can be negotiated. When you work with us, we will review every detail of the separation agreement and try to negotiate better terms, including the following:
- Additional payment
- Payment for unused vacation or sick time
- Retirement assets
- Stock options
- Employment benefits such as life insurance and health insurance
- Positive referrals and non-disparagement
- Stock options
- Retirement assets
Finally, if you have not been offered a severance agreement, it is still worth discussing your case with an attorney. An attorney may be able to negotiate a severance agreement with your employer, especially if there was any type of wrongdoing on your employer’s part before you were laid off or fired.
Discuss Your Case With a Cincinnati Employment Separation Agreement Attorney
Suppose you have been asked to sign a separation agreement after being laid off or fired in Cincinnati. In that case, you will benefit from discussing your case with an employment law attorney. HKM Employment Attorneys can help you understand whether it is worth it to you to release your legal rights to bring a claim against your employer in exchange for compensation.
Additionally, one of our experienced attorneys can help you determine if you are in a position to negotiate more severance pay and benefits. One of our attorneys can also help you decide whether you have a right to pursue a claim for wrongful termination under Ohio or federal labor laws. Before signing a severance agreement, contact the Cincinnati-based attorneys at HKM Employment Attorneys to better understand your legal rights and options.