Sometimes things just don’t work out between an employer and an employee. Regardless of the reason, employers will often seek to shield themselves from the possibility of legal action by offering a termination or separation agreement.
Let’s take a closer look at how these agreements work, why employees sign them, and the steps you should take if you find yourself in this situation.
Understanding Employee Termination/Separation Agreements
While termination or separation agreements vary somewhat from document to document, they have some common elements. They typically include a “waiver of claims,” which means that the employee waives the right to pursue future legal action related to her employment with that employer. This may rule out litigation over wrongful termination, compensation or a whole range of issues.
Employers may also include non-disparagement clauses, which restrict the employee from criticizing the employer, and non-compete clauses, which can prevent the employee from seeking work with a competitor. Non-disclosure or confidentiality clauses may also be inserted in an attempt to keep the terms of the separation agreement private.
Why Do Employees Agree to These Terms?
Employers are able to encourage departing workers to sign away their ability to pursue claims and accept other restrictions due to inducements offered within a separation agreement. For example, an employer may offer severance pay and other benefits and make them contingent upon the employer agreeing to the separation agreement conditions.
However, not every separation agreement is on sound legal footing. If you’ve signed an agreement you believe is unfair — or you are being asked to sign an agreement now — it is advisable to speak to a law firm that is experienced in employment law.
How The Right Law Firm Can Help
An attorney that is experienced in employment law can review a separation or termination agreement to determine whether the document is open to legal challenge.
Additionally, an attorney with experience in this area can provide key guidance before signing a separation agreement. This can help ensure that you do not agree to terms that are illegal, onerous or unfair, and that your ability to move onto another position is not impeded. Ultimately, working with an experienced attorney can help ensure that your separation agreement works for you — and does not merely serve the interests of your former employer.