Can I sign a severance agreement after expressing a desire to renegotiate the terms?

I received a severance package after a layoff. I was given 7 days to reply. I expressed a desire to renegotiate the terms a day later (having left without signing the severance agreement) and subsequently have not heard back from my former employer. My 7 days is about up and I was wondering if I sign the original severance agreement whether it will be binding even though at one point I expressed a desire to renegotiate?

3 answers  |  asked Jan 18, 2010 10:25 PM [EST]  |  applies to California

Answers (3)

Elisa Ungerman
You state that you did not sign the severance agreement. Most severance agreements comply with the older workers protection act that allows you 21 days to reply and once you sign - 7 days to opt out. If you are over 40, the offer should have so stated.

If not the offer may have expired. But typically ERs are willing to negotiate if you have leverage such as filing a lawsuit against them because generally in return for the severance the employer wants you to sign a general release. I would take the agreement to a lawyer for a review to see if you have leverage to reopen negotiations

posted by Elisa Ungerman  |  Jan 19, 2010 11:10 AM [EST]
Karl Gerber
It sounds like the contract expired. If the employer still wants to offer you severance maybe they will if they fear a lawsuit. Is there something about the termination that was illegal?

Does the severance waive anything you don't want waived?

This is not a simple yes or no question about an expired severance. It is important that you do the right thing here based upon what legal rights you may have.

With a lawyer they may re-visit the expired severance if that is still what you want to do, and then the lawyer can see if the contract is right and whether you have other rights.

posted by Karl Gerber  |  Jan 18, 2010 10:38 PM [EST]
Arkady Itkin
Renegotiating the severance will be much harder after you sign the agreement. The 7-day deadline is usually not very seriously and is only provided to put some pressure on you to close the deal and for both you and the employer to move.

You should contact your employer and ask for extension (a week or two) to discuss your severance package, preferrably with the counsel of an experience employment attorney who can make sure that the release you will be signing is fair and protects you as well as it protects the company.


Arkady Itkin
San Francisco & Sacramento Employment Lawyer

posted by Arkady Itkin  |  Jan 18, 2010 10:36 PM [EST]

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