WHAT IS REASONABLE SEVERANCE?

May 27th, 2018 Posted by No Comment yet

Employees always ask me, “What constitutes reasonable severance?”  There is no black and white answer to this question.  That is because there is no magic formula that dictates what amount of severance you may ultimately receive if you are willing to negotiate for more.

In evaluating whether the initial amount of severance offered to you is reasonable (or fair) and how much more you might ask for there is a standard most professionals look to: one to two weeks per year for assistants, two to three weeks per year for mid-level managers and vice presidents, three to four weeks per year for senior vice presidents and four weeks or more per year for C-Suite executives.  However, these standards are nothing more than a starting point.  The amount of severance one can obtain is highly negotiable and will depend in large part on a variety of factors such as the financial size and benefit policies of the employer, your individual needs, the reason for your termination (i.e., were you terminated in violation of a contract or due to discrimination, etc.), the obligations you are being asked to assume (i.e., non-compete, future cooperation), the length of your tenure, and your individual needs (i.e., serious health issues).  It may also be as simple as the fact that you are well liked by the person(s) making the decision.

One thing is for certain, you will never know how much your severance can be unless you ask.

 

“AT WILL”: WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN?

May 17th, 2018 Posted by No Comment yet

Employers like to remind employees at every opportunity that they are employed “At Will” (i.e., that employers have the right to hire or fire employees for any reason or no reason at all).  But, the “At Will” doctrine cuts both ways.  Either party is free to terminate the relationship without so much as an explanation or even a telephone call to say good-bye.

There are other considerations with respect to the At Will doctrine.  First, if you are unhappy or get a better job offer you too are free to leave.  You may also accept a job offer and if a better offer comes along either before, or even after, you start your new job you are free to take it.  Second, At Will is limited by laws such as those against discrimination as well as any contractual agreements an employer enters into with its employees.  Third, At Will is relevant only to the relationship.  It does not allow the employer to avoid payment that was earned or may be due by agreement.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING TO BE FIRED

April 27th, 2018 Posted by No Comment yet

Getting fired is a painful experience that usually comes without warning and, sometimes, under suspect circumstances.  For many, it causes upheaval to ones career, family and self-esteem. I often equate the employment relationship to dating and depending on the length of the employment relationship and the manner of the termination emotions can often run amok.

If the day comes when you are being terminated, the best thing to do is nothing.  As emotionally upsetting as the situation may be, you should not admit to any wrongdoing, raise your voice or threaten to get a lawyer and/or sue the company.  If you are offered a separation package do not sign it (or any other document you do not understand) or try to negotiate it.  You will not be in the right frame of mind to truly address the myriad issues that might be relevant or to properly apply whatever leverage you may have to negotiate for a more severance.

If you feel up to it you might ask questions about what the effect your termination will have on your health care, equity, pension or 401k, vacation payout, and right to unemployment insurance.  You may also want to ask what prospective employers will be told if they call to verify your employment.  You can even ask for the reason for the decision, although do not expect an answer that makes sense (nor is your employer legally obligated to give you one).

Other than those types of questions, it is best not to react.  Simply accept the decision, leave quietly and, if you feel the decision was improper or even illegal, contact an attorney.

 

WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET FIRED

February 23rd, 2018 Posted by No Comment yet

Getting fired is a painful experience that usually comes without warning and, sometimes, under suspect circumstances.  For many, it causes upheaval to ones career, family and self-esteem. Depending on the length of the employment relationship and the manner of the termination emotions can often run amok.
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THREE STEPS ON HOW TO APPROACH YOUR EMPLOYER ABOUT IMPROVING YOUR SEVERANCE

June 17th, 2017 Posted by No Comment yet

Your severance offer is highly negotiable.  How you approach the company to request additional severance is what makes all of the difference.

In most instances the best way to negotiate for more severance is to send a written request in a verifiable manner (i.e., an email or letter by FedEx) to the company.  The First Step: identify the target.  The target is a senior executive who has the power, and either or both the inclination and motivation to improve your offer.  Human Resources or legal are almost never the proper target.  The Second Step: prepare the letter.  The tone of the letter should be respectful.  In addition, the letter should specifically set forth your reasonable proposal as to what additional money and benefits would make your severance fair.  The Third Step: support your request for additional severance with rational arguments based on your unique factual circumstances.

It is your unique situation that will ultimately dictate the improvements, if any, the company will make to its initial severance offer.  As such, avoid, unless truly relevant, referencing what you have “heard” others have received.  First, it is rare that what you “heard” someone got turns out to be accurate. Second, most employers are turned off by a request that is based on what you heard others got.  Also avoid threatening the company with lawyers, lawsuits and publicity.  The company has lawyers too, is in a far better position to drag out a resolution and there is truly no such thing as bad publicity if you could even interest anyone in your story.