Severance Agreements – Frequently Asked Questions

Douglas J. Carroll, Jr. Employee Rights, Employee Rights News, Employment Contracts, Milwaukee Employment Lawyer, Milwaukee Severance Attorney, severance agreements

What is a Severance Agreement?

A severance agreement is a written contract between an employer and an employee which typically provides the employee with monetary compensation and/or a continuation of benefits at the end of the employment relationship in exchange for the employee’s release of claims they may have against the employer.

Is My Employer Required To Offer Severance?

Maybe. Under Wisconsin employment laws, employers are not legally obligated to offer severance agreements to discharged employees.  In some cases, an employer’s own policies may require it to offer severance, but this is the exception, not the rule.

What Is A Release Of Claims?

A Release of Claims is your agreement to give up your right to sue your employer.  Employers often draft incredibly broad releases that include claims of employment discrimination such as Age Discrimination, Sex Discrimination, Race Discrimination, Disability Discrimination and Ethnicity Discrimination.  Most releases apply to all potential claims you may have whether you know about them or not.

What Are Common Terms of Severance Agreements?

This question is difficult to fully answer.  Severance Agreements are unique.  There is no standard severance agreement form.  However, most agreements include provisions addressing the severance payment, the release of claims, confidentiality, non-disparagement, return of company property, non-admission of liability and what happens if you breach the agreement.  Some employers also attempt to insert restrictive covenants such as non-compete agreements and confidential information agreements into severance agreements.

It is very important to understand that severance agreements are written by the employer to protect the employer.  The devil is in the details. Although the provisions listed above are common, the actual wording of those provisions can vary greatly and oftentimes is very one-sided in favor off the employer.

Should I Have An Attorney Review The Agreement Before Signing?

Yes.  Once you sign an agreement it can be difficult, if not impossible, to get out of the agreement or change the terms of the agreement.  Accordingly, before you sign the agreement it is absolutely critical that you understand the terms of the agreement, know the value of the claims you are releasing by signing the agreement, know what terms are one-sided in favor of the employer, know terms that benefit and protect you that should be in the agreement. One meeting with a Milwaukee Employment Attorney will either give you peace of mind in knowing that you will not be leaving serious money on the table or entering into an unfair agreement.

If you have been offered a severance package, contact Carroll Law Firm, SC, a Milwaukee Severance Agreement Law Firm that will meet with you, provide you with a detailed evaluation of the potential claims you would be releasing by signing the agreement, explain your rights and obligations under the agreement and tell you what is unfair or missing from the proposed severance agreement.