If you’ve just lost your job and been given a severance agreement by your former employer, take pause and spend time with the document before you sign it. Severance agreements often put pressure on an employee to agree to unclear terms, but are written to be a legally binding agreement between the employee and the employer.
Severance agreements are often a formality to disconnect an employer-employee relationship and prevent future wrongful termination lawsuits. They also serve to allow an employee to collect severance pay post-termination, based on agreed terms.
The state of Indiana doesn’t require employers to provide a severance package, so take a close look at the agreement and local labor laws before signing it in order to be comfortable with the terms presented. It must comply with any agreements and contracts made previously, so spend time with all existing documentation to be sure the terms align with your expectations.
Should I Have an Employment Law Firm Look at My Severance Agreement?
If you have any concerns about your separation agreement or are worried that it doesn’t benefit you as an employee as much as it stands to protect the employer, it’s good to get a second opinion from an employment lawyer. Be especially wary of terms used in the agreement if your termination is based on:
- Sexual harassment
- Limitation of employee rights (including but not limited to employee benefits, health insurance, unused vacation, stock options)
Don’t let an employer pressure you into signing a severance agreement on their timeline. An employer cannot force employees to sign one on the spot, and must allow you the time and freedom to review the documentation yourself and pursue legal options.
Can I Sue for Severance Pay?
If you and your employer cannot agree to terms in the separation agreement, a lawyer may advise you to sue for severance pay. Be sure to allow any employment lawyer to review existing non-competes and employment contracts that you may have agreed to during your employment. They will be best able to determine whether a lawsuit will award you severance pay.
Choosing to have legal representation removes an employee from the tough position of making a case to a former employer. An employment lawyer can calculate terms, present informed counteroffers, and structure lawsuits. Avoid the unnecessary pressure of interacting with former colleagues if your negotiations or intent could be misinterpreted or dismissed.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Negotiate Severance Pay?
Getting legal advice from an experienced employment lawyer may be an invaluable opportunity for you. A lawyer can help you navigate and justify your rights as an employee, especially if you believe you are being unfairly terminated. They will work to help negotiate claims and terms of the termination agreements.
Law offices make it easier for you as an employee to step back from possible conflict, and will act as an intermediary between you and your employer. Having that attorney-client relationship will remove you from stressful interactions, and provide you with privacy protection.
How Do You Calculate Severance Pay?
Severance pay can vary based on terms stated in an employment agreement, and may fluctuate based on your salary. One of the most common ways it is calculated is by multiplying your weekly rate by the number of years you were employed.
Say you worked at a company for 10 years and earned $80,000/year (or $1,538/week). You may be eligible for $15,385 in severance pay.
Contact HKM Today
HKM Employment Attorneys is a law firm of experienced attorneys practicing labor and employment law in Indianapolis. Attorneys oversee many practice areas including workers’ compensation and severance agreements, always working to ensure that clients get equal treatment and compensation per federal and local employment laws. Call HKM Employment Attorneys to:
- Discuss terms of your separation agreement
- Explore whether any employment matter is a legal issue worth pursuing
- Learn more about your rights as an employee in the state of Indiana
We have experience representing clients in all areas of employment, with expert familiarity on both state and local Department of Labor (DOL) laws and federal laws like:
- The Indiana Civil Rights Law
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The employment law attorneys at HKM will help you to handle all the legal aspects of your employment. Our office in Marion County serves Indianapolis and other surrounding areas. Contact us today for a consultation.