Severance Package Acceptance

I am in production management and have recently been told that I will be laid off due to an obvious reduction in production orders. Upper management only decided to tell me about this situation after I presented them with a blind newspaper classified ad for a position that matched my job description line for line. The only contact information was an email address. There wasn't a company name stated in the ad. They really didnít admit that the job position was mine, but I am near 100% certain that it was. I have heard through the grapevine that they changed their plans for hiring a replacement after mulling the situation over.

They havenít hired anyone, but I am sure that they received numerous resumes of prospective replacements if they decide to hire someone immediately after I leave. They told me that my layoff is cost cutting move due to the production drop-off. Several other salaried employees are being laid off, as well. Hourly production workers have also been laid off due to the production decline. The company president told me that he would write a letter of recommendation and it would state that the lay off was related to the downsizing of the company.

They will be offering a severance package to me when I leave in two weeks, but I am concerned that they are going to hire a younger and cheaper person after I leave, even considering the poor state of our business. My position was key and I don't believe that they will be able to effectively divvy up my responsibilities among the current staff. I have asked for a letter/agreement with the terms of my release several times, but have not received anything in writing to-date.

Do they need to stipulate in a written agreement that I waive my rights to sue upon acceptance of the severance package or is that simply implied by my acceptance of a severance check? Should I ask for time to consider the severance package? Do I have any legal recourse regarding the employment ad that I found in the local paper? Would you recommend seeing a lawyer in this case or should I take the money and accept my fate and my chances in the job market?


1 answer  |  asked Sep 15, 2003 12:26 PM [EST]  |  applies to Pennsylvania

Answers (1)

Christopher Ezold
Take your time

If you accept a severance package, that does not automatically waive your rights to sue for discrimination; the package would need to contain a specific statement that you agree to such a waiver.

You should ask for 2 weeks to consider the agreement; it is likely the agreement will give you at least three, plus several days to rescind the agreement after you sign it.

The ad does not, in and of itself, give you a legal right of action. It may, however, be evidence of a disriminatory motive in 'laying you off.'

If you think you may have an age discrimination case (and you must be over 40 to have one), you should take the agreement to an attorney to discuss.

Good luck.

/Christopher E. Ezold/
Nancy O'Mara Ezold, P.C.
401 City Line Ave.,
Suite 904
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
(610) 660-5585

posted by Christopher Ezold  |  Sep 15, 2003 2:35 PM [EST]

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