severence pay

An employee did not follow proper safety procedures on a "field" job. He was told about this and a disciplinary action form was created and he signed it. Then he threw his keys, company ID, etc. on the table and said "I'm done" and walked out. Phoned the next day wanting to talk, but we assumed that he quit and on the next pay period, provided him with his final pay and vacation pay earned. He won his unemployment compensation case (told some untruths and had an attorney present, we had only one person available to go)...his word against ours. Now he is suing us for severence pay. As far as we are concerned, he quit and is not entitled to severence. Any words of advice to us on how to handle this lawsuit he is presenting us with?

1 answer  |  asked Jun 12, 2007 8:51 PM [EST]  |  applies to Pennsylvania

Answers (1)

Christopher Ezold
It is unlikely that he has a right to severance pay.

Before I respond to your inquiry, I must state that we have not spoken, I have not reviewed the relevant documents and facts, and I do not represent you. Therefore, my discussion below is not a legal opinion, but is informational only. Finally, my discussion applies only to issues to which Pennsylvania or Federal law apply, unless otherwise specified.

That being said, it is unlikely that he has a right to severance pay. Severance is not a right, but more of a gift from the employer. Merely because you have a severance policy does not mean that you have to abide by it; policies are not contracts that an employee can enforce against an employer.

His only claim for severance is likely to be that he had a contract that requires him to be paid severance. Since he quit, he likely breached the contract first, and is still not entitled to severance. The finding of the unemployment compensation referee may not have significant weight in the lawsuit, depending on the issues.

Finally, if his claim is based on discrimination (i.e. other employees outside of his protected class received severance, but he did not), the analysis changes dramatically.

Without reviewing the claims, your severance policies and any contract, I cannot be any more specific with my response.

If you would like to discuss this matter further, please feel free to contact me at the below address(es) or number.

/Christopher E. Ezold/
Nancy O'Mara Ezold, P.C.
One Belmont Avenue,
Suite 501
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
(610) 660-5585
Cezold@Ezoldlaw.com

posted by Christopher Ezold  |  Jun 13, 2007 09:04 AM [EST]

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