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Four Tips for Negotiating a Severance Agreement in California

Leaving a job is never easy. Whether it is due to a lay-off, corporate restructuring, or differences in vision, the transition to a new position always presents challenges. A severance package — generally defined as benefits paid to an employee when they leave a company — helps to provide some relief during the transition.

One of the most important things to know about severance pay is it is not guaranteed by federal law or by California law. It may be stipulated by an employment agreement, but even then, a severance package is typically negotiated by the parties. In this article, our San Francisco employment law attorneys offer four tips for negotiating a favorable severance agreement.

  1. Remember that You are Not Obligated to Take the Initial Offer

In many cases, employees feel immense pressure to take the first severance offer from their company. Please know you are not obligated to accept the initial offer. You have the right to take time to review the agreement. Further, if you are not satisfied, you can ask for modified terms. Employers sometimes subtly make a severance package feel like a “take it or leave it” deal, but the reality is far more complicated.

  1. Understand that What You are Giving Up has Value

As was mentioned, severance pay is not guaranteed by law. There is no clause in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or another state statute that will give you an automatic right to severance benefits. It is important to understand that employees still have leverage in severance negotiations. Almost universally, a severance agreement will ask you to agree to some (or all) of the following:

  • Sign a release of all legal claims;
  • Submit to a confidentiality clause; and
  • Sign a non-disparagement agreement.

In other words, you are giving something up when you accept a severance package. What you are giving up has real, tangible value to your employer. This means you have leverage and you can use it to get a fair agreement. Generally, if the circumstances surrounding your termination could support a claim for wrongful termination, you have more leverage in negotiating a better severance, because the release of liability poses greater value to your employer.

  1. Be Creative: Consider Benefits Beyond a Lump Sum Payment

In negotiating a severance agreement, creativity can help to move the process along. In some cases, employers are restrained in what they can offer in a lump sum payment. If this is the case, there may be other benefits that can help ensure you receive the full and fair consideration you deserve.

  1. Work With an Experienced San Francisco Employment Attorney

You do not have to go up against your employer alone. An experienced attorney can help review your case, explain your options, and help you negotiate the best possible severance package. At Bracamontes & Vlasak, our California employment law attorneys have extensive experience representing clients in complex severance negotiations.

If you have questions about severance agreements, we are here to help. For a confidential review of your case, please contact our law firm now. We represent employees throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including in Daly City, South San Francisco, Pacifica, San Bruno, San Mateo, Half Moon Bay, El Granada and Palo Alto.

Employment Law Attorney

Was Your Auto Accident Caused By a Dangerous Road Hazard? What You Need to Know

Most car accidents are caused by driver error. By some measures, driver negligence is responsible for approximately 90 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in the United States. Of course, that figure still leaves a significant gap. So why do the other accidents occur?

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What is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death and Survival Action Claim?

Nothing is more traumatic than the loss of a loved one. While a wrongful death claim can never truly make things right, it does allow family members of the deceased an opportunity to receive justice, accountability and financial support. There is also a similar (but distinct) type of legal action called a survival action claim.

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Evictions and Tenants’ Rights During Quarantine

The biggest question tenants have during the COVID-19 quarantine is, “What do I do if I cannot afford the rent?” The State of California recently enacted a moratorium preventing landlords from filing evictions based on nonpayment of rent. That means, if you cannot pay your rent at this time, the landlord will not be able to file an eviction lawsuit against you until the quarantine is lifted. With that said, landlords are still able to file evictions to protect public safety and health. Examples of this would be permitting a nuisance to exist in the unit, i.e., illegal activity, fire hazards, or other dangerous conditions
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Premises Liability Claims: Who Can Be Held Liable for an Accident at a Public or Government Building in California?

Were you injured on public property in Northern California? If so, you have the right to bring a premises liability claim to seek financial compensation for your injuries-but there are some special rules and regulations that apply. Most likely, your case falls under the California Tort Claims Act (CTCA). Here, our San Francisco premises liability lawyer explains three of the most important things you need to know about accidents on public property.
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What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Claim in California?

Losing a loved one is devastating. A preventable death can take a spiritual, emotional and financial toll on a family. While nothing can ever truly make up for such a heartbreaking loss, a civil wrongful death claim allows close family members of the loved one to get accountability and financial support. Below, our San Francisco wrongful death lawyer provides an overview of damages that can be recovered through a wrongful death lawsuit in California.
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When is Doctor Misdiagnosis Medical Malpractice?

When you seek professional medical care, you reasonably expect you will receive an accurate and timely diagnosis. Unfortunately, misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis remain serious problems. According to AARP, as many as 20 percent of serious medical conditions are initially misdiagnosed by medical professionals.

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