If your employer has unfairly terminated your contract, you could be asked to sign an agreement that waives your right to sue because of it. This agreement is called a severance agreement.
You need to be careful when signing severance agreements. This is because they most often imply that you are giving up the right to enforce your entitlements under the earlier agreement.
What is a Severance Agreement?
The Kansas Department of Labor advises that while we are an at-will employment state, meaning employers can fire you for any reason or even for no reason at all, they are still required to fulfill the terms of any severance contracts. This is a term that covers a wide variety of agreements that consist of some waiver of your rights. Sometimes, severance agreements are called “Separation Agreement and General Release” or “Separation and Waiver of Rights.” No matter what they are called, such agreements usually operate to disentitle a person from enforcing a right.
You have an obligation to abide by whatever terms are contained in the agreement because it is a legal document. Severance agreements in Kansas are usually offered when the other party feels he or she may be prejudiced if you enforce your rights. Due to this, it often involves some compensation.
Depending on the cause of the agreement, you may be given between 21 to 45 days to decide whether to sign and another seven days within which to revoke your signature.
What Happens When You Sign the Agreement?
In previous cases, the Kansas courts have ruled that severance agreements are enforceable. Once you sign, you are almost completely bound by the terms of the agreement. It would mean that you have given up the right to sue and demand damages. Even if the waiver involves discrimination, you may have given up the right to collect damages if you do eventually sue.
It is unlikely that the court would let you try to get out of a waiver. This is especially the case if you have collected money from the other party in exchange for signing the waiver.
You Can Negotiate
An offer of a severance agreement in Kansas is just like any other employment contract. You are free to negotiate if you are unhappy with the terms of the offer. You should be careful when negotiating, though. This is because the other party may decide to withdraw the offer.
Another thing you need to pay attention to when deciding to negotiate is the effect of that decision. Under Kansas contract laws, negotiation of an offer is deemed to be a rejection of the initial offer. It operates as if you rejected the initial offer and then made another one.
Your ability to negotiate will often be based on your bargaining power. This bargaining power refers to the amount of leverage you have in the negotiations. It could consist of the gravity of rights available to you such as a grave violation.
When you get an offer of a severance agreement, be cautious. It would most probably mean that you have some eminently enforceable right. Do not rush headlong into signing. Ensure that you contact a lawyer first.
Have Questions About Your Legal Rights? Speak to an Employment Contract Lawyer in Kansas City Today
If you have received notice of your termination and are reviewing a severance package or agreement, contact HKM Employment Attorneys today so you can have sound legal advice concerning the terms of the agreement.