Employment relationships have undergone big changes in the last few years. Employees must still do all they can to seek the best severance package and avoid accepting whatever is offered when their job ends.
Employees are entitled to certain benefits but they may also possess leverage for negotiating better severance agreements. Required benefits include COBRA health benefits and unused leave time.
Employees may also have the ability to earn more benefits under these conditions:
- Their employment contract contains severance benefits and procedures
- Their employer’s policies cover severance
- They are covered by a collective bargaining agreement which contains severance benefits and termination procedures
- The employee was terminated for illegal reasons such as race, gender, age or other unlawful discrimination or whistleblower retaliation
It may be in the employer’s interest to negotiate more generous severance packages. These include trying to prevent lawsuits or other legal actions for discrimination, harassment, whistleblower retaliation or wrongful termination.
If there is a risk that an employee has a legal claim, employees may use the severance agreement to forestall these actions. In return for an employee’s release and agreement not to sue, the employer may grant severance pay and benefits.
Sometimes, employers have a pretense for employment decisions that are actually, secretly illegal. Most employment in Florida is considered to be “at will,” meaning that employers have wide latitude with regard to terminating employees, except where it violates a law. They do not necessarily have to provide a reason for the termination, but sometimes employers state a reason that is meant to mask an ulterior motive.
For example, the economy is now undergoing a record number of resignations in which workers, including younger workers, are leaving their jobs. Employers may take advantage of this pool of available younger workers in order to fire older workers. Although employment decisions based upon age are illegal discrimination, businesses may describe the action as a reorganization or as the elimination of a position.
Employers typically have more experience and skill in negotiating an employment matter. Attorneys can assist workers with seeking the best options available under the circumstances.