What is a severance agreement?

A severance agreement is a document which sets forth the employer and employee’s agreement to end the employment relationship on mutually acceptable terms. Many times when an employee is terminated or is threatened with termination from their job the employer will discuss with the employee the possibility of a severance agreement. Even if the employer does not discuss this possibility with the employee, it may be an option that is worth pursuing. It is particularly important for employees to have representation in these negotiations. One reason why independent representation is critical is that the severance agreement will invariably include a release of all potential claims that the employee has against the employer in exchange for the severance payment.

How does the process of negotiating a severance agreement usually begin?

Most of the time, the employer will draft the first draft and present it to the employee along with the news that they have been terminated. The employer will provide the employee with a limited amount of time (usually 21 days) to review the severance agreement, sign, and return it to the employer. It is at this point, as soon as the severance agreement is delivered to the employee that it is critical to contact an attorney to review the agreement and to advise the employee regarding the severance agreement.

I’ve just been provided a severance agreement after being terminated from my job. Should I try to negotiate a better deal? Do I really need a lawyer to review my severance agreement?

The answer to this is yes and no. No you shouldn’t negotiate the contract by yourself. And yes, you should contact an attorney to review the agreement and to advise you regarding the agreement. A key to any severance negotiation is determining what negotiating leverage the employee has and can use. Whether the employee has leverage in a given situation involves many complicated employment related legal concepts that should be analyzed by a lawyer.

If you are an executive or other professional employee who has been offered a severance package, I can help you. I am a Savannah Georgia attorney and I represent individuals in the negotiation of severance agreements. It takes an experienced attorney to be able to ensure that the basic provisions that should be included in severance agreements are included. Additionally, it is important that more detailed provisions covering specific items be included to protect the employee. I can also make suggested revisions to the severance agreement and provide you with proposed additional paragraphs or sections for you to use in negotiating a fair and equitable bargain, or if the situation merits it – I can negotiate the severance agreement directly with your employer.

If you believe that your employer has treated you wrongly, call me at (912) 244-3999 to schedule an initial consultation so we can sit down and talk about the facts of your case and so that I can give you my opinion about whether or not you have a case.