Only one not to receive severance

Due to a loss of several major customers our company had to release 38 of the 40 employees in the area. My classification was different from the other 37, but many work responsibilities were shared. Within the 37 employees there were positions of drivers, werehouse and office staff--some hourly, most salary. They all received severance, I did not. Reason given was that I was a "manager." Well, we also had an office manager and a werehouse manager. I was with the company for 11 years with nothing but outstanding reviews and accolades for the duration. Nothing was ever shown in writing as to why I was excluded. Does it sound as though I have I have any semblance of a sound argument?

1 answer  |  asked Dec 12, 2008 5:08 PM [EST]  |  applies to Ohio

Answers (1)

Neil Klingshirn
Did your employer have a severance plan?

Generally speaking, an employer has no obligation to provide severance, unless the company has a severance pay plan. See the MEL FAQ article on severance pay for a broader discussion of the general law of severance pay.

If there is a Plan, the Plan would define who is eligible to receive severance and under what conditions. You can ask for a copy of any severance plan, which the employer must provide if it exists. Consult it to see if you were covered.

If the employer did not have a formal severance plan, it may be possible, although difficult, to establish that an informal but clear practice existed of paying severance, such that the law will imply a severance plan. We would need to evaluate whether you could prove an implied severance plan based on the facts of your case. I would also need to research whether the law has changed recently in this area.

You may also be able to establish a claim if you were excluded from severance pay for an unlawful reason, such as your race, age, gender or other protected classification, or because your ex-employer retaliated against you for engaging in protected conduct. This would be a fact intensive claim and would involve the additional issue of whether you could assert a claim for "employment" discrimination in connection with a benefit that arises as a result of your termination of employment.

Best regards,

Neil Klingshirn.

posted by Neil Klingshirn  |  Dec 17, 2008 11:13 AM [EST]

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