I have a question about severance pay.

My division was recently eliminated. Most of us were laid off at different times; some were offered other jobs in the company. We all have been asked to sign a severance agreement waiving our rights to sue the company. However, some of the agreements had non-compete clauses; while others did not.

Also, the payout of the severance amount has also been inconsistent. For example, someone who worked for the company for 6 months, received 4 weeks severance; while someone who worked 1.5 years received 2 weeks; and yet another who worked 8 years received only 4 weeks.

Should I be concerned about all of these inconsistencies?

1 answer  |  asked Mar 6, 2002 1:30 PM [EST]  |  applies to California

Answers (1)

Janet M. Koehn
no, you should be concerned about the non-compete!

there may be legitimate reasons for differences in severance: the person(s) being laid off may have more valuable rights they are giving up, their expertise may be more valuable, etc. you really cannot compare based solely on seniority.
however, you should be concerned about the noncompete agreements. a true noncompete agreement is illegal in california. if you are referring to other types of agreements, such as restricting use of trade secrets and other such issues, the agreement may be ok.
also, you need to know the down side of signing any such agreement, such as whether it contains unfavorable arbitration provisions, liquidated damages, etc.
you need to have your agreement reviewed by an attorney experienced in employment law. spend a little time and money to know what your rights are. if you are in southern california, please call me for an appointment.
janet koehn
805-568-0655

posted by Janet M. Koehn  |  Mar 6, 2002 2:52 PM [EST]

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