Blog » Severance Agreements

  • Executive Job Transitions

    Jun 22, 2015

    If you’ve been laid off, fired from your job, restructured out, or you’ve been told you need to leave in weeks or months, you need to manage a job transition. Executive job transitions can be managed.   You may feel that you’re alone in it, but you’re not.   Every week we advise a range of executives and professionals who either knew their job was on the line or were given their notice.  For many people experiencing job transitions, it can be a time of upheaval, dislocation and anxiety.  Here are some of the considerations for executives facing a job transi

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  • Five Things Fired Employees Need to Know

    Sep 19, 2014

    fired Getting fired can be terribly stressful.  Usually there is emotional and financial fall out from a firing.  It can be hard to know to know how to deal with it.  Here are five things employees who are fired or laid off from their jobs in Massachusetts need to know. 1.   The company’s reason for the firing or lay-off.  The employee needs to know if the decision was for performance issues, lack of work, misconduct, or for any other reason.  Why is this important?  If the employer gives conflicting or false reasons for the firing or lay-off, it raises the question about th

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  • Top Ten Severance Agreement Don’ts

    Nov 1, 2013

    A Severance Agreement is usually drafted in the company’s favor.  The agreements and releases in it are not typically for the benefit of both sides.  What are some of the mistakes employees often make when handed an agreement?  Here are the top ten severance don’ts: 1. Do not sign an agreement without fully understanding it.  It is a contract.  It can affect your employment, sometimes for several years into the future. 2. In most cases, you need time to read the severance agreement and understand it.  Most agreements are several pages long.  They have been written by a la

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  • Severance Agreements for Financial Professionals

    Jun 14, 2013

    Financial professionals working in the securities industry who are separating from their firms are often presented with severance agreements. Severance agreements for financial professionals are usually drafted to protect the interests of the firm and not the individual broker. The severance agreement may include provisions that restrict the financial professional’s ability to work for other firms or with certain clients. It also may include provisions to restrict the ability of the individual to solicit others from the firm or to solicit certain clients. Some of the issues to keep in

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  • Severance Agreement FAQs

    Mar 14, 2013

    Below are some Massachusetts Severance Agreement FAQs (frequently asked questions) and responses to those questions: 1. What is a severance agreement? A severance agreement is a contract between an employer and a current or former employee.  The employee usually gives up certain rights in exchange for pay and/or other benefits. 2. Do employers owe employees severance pay? A company may owe an employee severance pay if the company promised it to the employee in an employment contract or other policy. All employees who are let go from their company are not automatically owed severance pay

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  • Rights of Minority Shareholders and Employees in Close Corporations

    Nov 12, 2012

    In Massachusetts, rights of minority shareholders who are also employees in a close corporation, are significantly greater than rights of employees at will.  What is a “closely held corporation?”   A closely held corporation is one that (1) has few stockholders, (2) no ready market for the stock and (3) the majority stockholder is substantially involved in management decisions and in operating the company. While employees of a small closely held company may think of and refer to the majority shareholder as “the owner,” and think that “the ownerR

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  • Severance Agreements and Collecting Unemployment Benefits

    Jul 30, 2012

    Severance agreements can affect collecting unemployment benefits.  Severance Agreements are usually written with the employer in mind.  While the agreement may give some weeks or even months of severance pay to the employee, the exchange may or may not be fair.  If the agreement hasn’t been negotiated, there is a good chance that it has been written by the company’s attorney to protect just the company’s interests.  In other words, it isn’t mutual. An employee may think the company will not “contest” or fight the unemployment benefits.   Often a man

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  • Negotiating Massachusetts Severance Agreements

    Jul 24, 2012

    Signed severance agreements in Massachusetts are contracts that outline the rights and responsibilities of the company and the employee.   Typically severance agreements are drafted by the company to protect its interests.  Despite the fact that the severance agreement may be one-sided, employees often  just sign the agreement without fully understanding it. It is important that employees take the necessary time to understand all of the provisions in the agreement.  Some severance agreements may need to be negotiated in order to have an agreement that is fair to both the company and

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  • Severance Agreements: An Opportunity for Employees

    Jan 21, 2012

    Employees in Massachusetts who are laid off or terminated from their jobs may receive a severance agreement to review and sign.  While being laid off or terminated is typically a very traumatic event,  an employee should not lose sight of the fact that a severance agreement may also present an opportunity. Severance agreements are usually drafted from a management perspective and with the interests of the company in mind.  Depending upon the company and the particular employee,  the provisions in the agreement may be negotiable.  This presents an opportunity for an employee to include pr

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  • Seven Financial Steps Following Job Loss

    Jan 7, 2012

    Employees in Massachusetts who are laid off or terminated from their job will need to immediately reassess their financial situation.  Given the job market, an employee who has lost a job may be out of work for a period of time.  This is particularly true for older workers, who may find it difficult to replace their job and/or salary.  It is important, therefore that workers who have lost their job take action to protect their finances, including the following seven steps: 1. Figure out whether you have any accrued but unused vacation time.  In Massachusetts, accrued but unused vacati

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  • Rights of Laid Off and Fired Employees in Massachusetts

    Dec 3, 2011

    What rights, if any, do employees (non-union) have when they are laid off or fired from their jobs?  First, Massachusetts law requires that the employer give laid off and fired employees all wages owed.  If the company lets the employee go, the employee must be paid on his or her last day,  not during the next pay cycle.  If the employee gives notice,  the company can wait until pay checks are cut or direct deposited during the normal course. Laid off and fired employees are entitled to all vacation time that has accrued but that has not been used.  Vacation time that has been ea

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  • Before You Sign that Severance Agreement!

    Nov 9, 2011

    Before you sign that severance agreement in Massachusetts, consider whether there are documents that may have an impact on it.  A severance agreement is a contract and employees should know the legal impact of the document before they sign it, even if it offers substantial severance pay.   Here are a few of the documents you will need to gather and consider before you sign that severance agreement: Any employment agreement you signed The offer letter from the company Any and all signed non-compete agreements Any non-solicitation agreement Any confidentiality, trade secrets or non-d

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  • Five Ways to Protect Your Reputation With a Severance Agreement

    Oct 31, 2011

    Many employees who have lost their job are concerned about how any potential employers might view a job termination.    After all, we’ve seen the press about employers who are only interested in scooping up employees from their competitors and  do not wish to receive resumes from the ranks of the unemployed.   In negotiating a severance agreement in Massachusetts,  an employee may wish to consider ways in which a severance agreement can assist their job search,  protect their reputation and ease the way into a new position.   Here are five ways an employee in Massachu

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  • Are You About to Lose Your Job?: Six Warning Signs

    Oct 19, 2011

    If you work for a company in Massachusetts, how do you know if you are about to lose your job and that you may need to start considering your options?  Here are five warning signs that may eventually result in an employee filing for unemployment: (1)   You’ve been put on a performance improvement plan.  By the time an employee is on a performance improvement plan, management has likely had serious discussions about the fit of that employee within the organization.  While management may truly want to give the employee another opportunity to succeed, the reality is that a performance im

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  • Understanding Massachusetts Severance Agreements: Part II

    Sep 30, 2011

    When employers present employees in Massachusetts with severance agreements, they are typically looking to accomplish certain goals, such as: (1) assisting the employee in transitioning to a new job, (2) having the employee waive certain legal claims such as the right to file a complaint for age discrimination;  or (3) reinforcing agreements the employee previously signed, such as a confidentiality agreement or non-solicitation agreement.    What about the employee’s goals?  The severance agreement presented to employees in Massachusetts is typically drafted in favor of the comp

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  • Massachusetts Severance Pay and Unemployment Benefits

    Aug 5, 2011

    Employees frequently ask how their unemployment will be affected by severance payments when they are let go by a company in Massachusetts.  Employees who are separating from their company and have been granted severance pay are often filing for unemployment benefits shortly after leaving their job.  Because the wording of a severance agreement may affect your ability to collect unemployment, professional negotiation may be helpful to ensure you do not lose any of your rights. A severance agreement is a contract and it can restrict your employment opportunities after you sign it.  Ther

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  • Severance Agreements in Massachusetts: Top Ten Tips for Older Workers

    Jul 22, 2011

    Attend any event for employees in transition in Massachusetts and you will find a great number of older workers.  According to a recent article in the New York Times entitled: “Older Workers Without Jobs Face Longest Time Out of Work,” the typical length of time out of work for a worker between the ages of 55 and 64 is 44.6 weeks, which is just a few week short of a year.  Given the anticipated time out of work, older workers who are laid off or fired from their jobs in Massachusetts should take the time to understand any severance agreement presented to them.  Severance agreements can

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  • Leveraging Severance Pay in Massachusetts

    Jun 6, 2011

    One of the misconceptions about severance pay commonly held by Massachusetts employees is that their employer owes them severance if they don’t leave the job voluntarily.  In certain circumstances an employee may have a contract that provides for severance pay in the event of termination. Alternatively, an employer may have agreed at the beginning or during the course of the employment relationship to give the employee a certain amount of severance pay upon termination.  If an employer hasn’t already agreed to pay severance pay and the employee is terminated, there is no obligation on

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  • Understanding Massachusetts Severance Agreements: Part I

    Feb 21, 2011

    A severance agreement is a contract.  An employee waives claims in exchange for legal consideration above and beyond what he or she was entitled to receive as an employee (typically severance pay and other inducements) to sign the agreement.  A common misunderstanding by employees relates to whether they are entitled to severance.  Employees who are terminated from their employment are entitled by law to any unpaid wages and accrued but unpaid vacation pay, but they are not entitled to severance pay.  Employers typically give severance pay to an employee in order to obtain an employee&

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  • Upcoming Presentation on Severance Agreements

    Jan 19, 2011

    On Tuesday,  January 25th at noon I will present on what you need to know about severance agreements at the Boston Society of Architects for the Admistration and HR Group.  We’ll discuss when it is appropriate to use severance agreements, what terms are typically negotiated, and what needs to be in the agreement in order to release age discrimination claims.  We’ll also briefly discuss the recent race discrimination decision described in the prior post. If you have any questions concerning severance agreements, contact Boston, Massachusetts employment lawyer Maura Greene at 61

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