Severance Review And Severance Negotiations Lawyer

Were you laid off or terminated and offered a severance package? Do not sign anything until you speak with an employment lawyer!

Why hire an employment lawyer?

Employment law is complicated

There are lots of deadlines. Some laws require you to obtain “right to sue” letters from the government before you can file a lawsuit. Some of these deadlines are short. If you have been wrongfully terminated or are about to be terminated, you need to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible so you do not lose your right to obtain compensation.


Your boss is not going to do the right thing out of the goodness of his or her heart. The company will only listen to you if you have a lawyer. The fear of litigation or a big verdict is the only thing that will get the company to fairly compensate you. Hiring a lawyer sends a message to the company that it needs to take you seriously.

Fair compensation

A good lawyer can tell you whether a severance offer is “fair” based upon the unique facts and circumstances of your employment. If your boss is not making a fair severance offer, a good lawyer can advise you on how to respond.

If you have to file a lawsuit, you need someone who can walk you through every step of litigation and settlement. You do not want to go it alone.

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The Benefits Of Hiring A Lawyer To Review Your Severance Offer

There are three reasons why you should have an employment lawyer review your severance package and negotiate the terms of your severance.

Determining whether you have a viable legal lawsuit

This is the first and most important step in the severance negotiation process. Because California is an at-will state, employers are not obligated to pay you a severance upon termination. Thus, your only real leverage is the ability to credibly threaten litigation. If you have no claim or a weak claim, then you do not want to overplay your hand and risk getting no severance at all. But if you have a viable claim for wrongful termination, you do not want to accept pennies on the dollar. Even if you do not want to go to court, it is worthwhile to hire an employment lawyer to negotiate your severance because the company is more likely to take you seriously.

Avoiding hidden surprises

Severance agreements are written in legalese. They are dense and confusing documents. Some contain nasty surprises. Some contain terms that are outright illegal. Some common clauses that employers try to slip into severance agreements include:

  • Illegal noncompete clauses that restrict where you can work;
  • Non-cooperation clauses that prevent you from helping anyone (such as a friend or co-worker) who is suing the company;
  • Gag orders that (illegally) prevent you from testifying;
  • Co-erced cooperation clauses where you must help the company in litigation or repay your severance;
  • Confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses that prohibit you from discussing the severance and/or your employment
  • Covenants not to sue and releases that prevent you from suing the company

Negotiate fair terms

If you are fortunate, this is the first time you have ever lost your job. Unless you work in the HR or legal space, the odds are you do not have much familiarity with severance agreements. By hiring an employment lawyer, you will know whether the terms you are being offered are unusual or one-sided compared to standard terms.

Frequently Asked Questions

Generally speaking, no. Some union collective bargaining agreements require the employer to offer severance. However there is no California or Federal law that requires an employer to pay severance.

It depends on whether the severance agreement contains a release or covenant not to sue. Most employers require you to waive your right to sue in exchange for severance.

Brandon Ortiz can review your severance and/or negotiate your severance on either an hourly basis or contingency fee basis. Brandon will recommend the option that is cheapest for you. Ortiz Law offers competitive rates and always puts the client first.