Can I be denied severance pay if I accept a position that is not comparable with my current package?

My company has lost the support contract with the company I have supported for 20 years+. There is another company that has won the contract.
My company does have a standard severance package that all WFR employees are eligible for.
However, my company is telling us that if we go to work, for anyone, we give up our severance eligibility.
The company refuses to actually give any of us an actual termination date, even though the service contract termination is 31 August. They will not issue the WFR notice.
They are not working with the new service provider to facilitate any sort of transfer or hiring process. But they have colluded with the other company HR to find who accepts a position with them and on that basis are denying severance. Even though the new positions are going to be a considerable pay/benefits cut for anyone who does accept one.

2 answers  |  asked Jul 8, 2014 07:47 AM [EST]  |  applies to Florida

Answers (2)

Phyllis Towzey
Unless you previously signed an employment agreement, a retention agreement, or some other contract with the company that defines under what circumstances you are entitled to severance, then there's not much you can do about this. There is no law that requires an employer in Florida to pay severance when employees are let go due to a reduction in force (RIF) or reorganization. (There are some laws, like the WARN Act, that relate to the amount of notice employees must be given in certain RIFs, but I don't have enough information to know if that applies in this case). Therefore, the company can set the rules - for example, deciding that employees who resign and take a position elsewhere prior to the actual job termination date are not eligible, or that employees lose the right to receive severance once they they do obtain other employment. The only prohibition would be that they can't discriminate between employees based on one of the protected classes, such as race, gender, religion, age, etc. (In other words, they can't offer the severance package to all employees under age 40 and deny it to all employees over age 40.)

The best thing for you to do is contact an employment lawyer to discuss the specifics of your situation, and have any contracts, policies, etc. that have been provided by the company reviewed.

What the company is doing here may strike you as unfair; however, that does not mean that it violates any law.

posted by Phyllis Towzey  |  Jul 8, 2014 08:01 AM [EST]
Arthur Schofield
There is no legal entitlement to a severance package unless you are working under a contract that provides for that right. What a lot of companies are doing now is giving 60 days of severance in lieu of the WARN notice. Hope this helps.

posted by Arthur Schofield  |  Jul 8, 2014 07:53 AM [EST]

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