Although California employers are not required to offer severance pay or other benefits when employees part ways, they often do to reward longtime and loyal workers.

If you have grievances with an employer and are leaving your job and have been presented with a severance agreement to sign in exchange for your silence, it is time to talk. Before you sign anything, contact a Sacramento severance agreement lawyer now. A California employment attorney from Erkel Law, P.C. can help you protect your rights and best interests.

What Conditions Can Employers Include in a Severance Agreement?

California employers cannot restrict employees from disclosing illegal acts in exchange for their silence when they leave a job. Senate Bill No. 331, expanded this disclosure prohibition that originally focused on discrimination based on sex and sexual harassment to include all discrimination and harassment and any other unlawful acts. The courts will void severance agreements that are exchanged for silence concerning illegal acts as a violation of public policy.

Employers can bargain for confidentiality so a departing employee cannot disclose proprietary information about a business. Agreements should include urging employees to consult employment attorneys within five days to represent their interests, and if they accept a severance package in less than five days, they must acknowledge in writing that they did so voluntarily with no coercion by an employer who threatens to withhold a severance package. A Sacramento severance agreement attorney can ensure these documents are legal under state and federal law.

Federal Law Has a Say in Severance Agreement Language

Under the federal Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA), employers have additional duties if they bargain with employees to give up the right to sue them. Some points to consider include:

  • The severance agreement cannot be written in confusing legal language but must be in plain English
  • Contracts must include consideration; both parties give up something of value to get something of value
  • The agreement must include Age Discrimination Act language defining an employee’s rights
  • Just like SB No. 331, employers must give employees reasonable time to sign an agreement and must encourage them to seek independent legal advice
  • Employers instigating mass layoffs must disclose the specific groups and their job descriptions along with the ages of other employees doing similar work

Talk to a Sacramento severance agreement lawyer from Erkel Law, P.C. who is well-versed in state and federal restrictions to understand whether the one tendered and received will stand up in court.

Let a Sacramento Severance Agreement Attorney Handle the Legal Aspects of Your Claim

Employers may decide to offer departing employees additional benefits for a variety of reasons, but some of them are unlawful. Severance agreements may be a genuine benefit to long-time, loyal employees, but if your departure is based on unlawful secrets your employer wants you to keep, be wary.

A solid and legal severance agreement must comply with California and federal law. An attorney familiar with these contracts should be involved in drafting or reviewing them before they are presented or signed. Contact a Sacramento severance agreement lawyer from Erkel Law, P.C. now to discuss your situation.

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