Q: Should I consult an employment attorney before signing a separation agreement?
My position was "eliminated" under unusual circumstances. I lost my mother in March and sister in September. Despite this, I did my best to continue working. My employer started outsourcing my work even though I was managing the load and delivering on my goals. I was offered 2 mos. severance to sign a separation agreement. I don't feel this is an appropriate period of time to find another job. Should I consult an attorney to review the agreement and potentially negotiate a longer period of severance? If so, will this be a costly endeavor?
A: There is a reason those agreements typically include language that encourages you to do so. An attorney can help you assess whether the amount they are paying is comparable to what you might get in a lawsuit, as well as if you have any valid claims against the company.
A: It is always good advice to have an employment law attorney review any agreement with your employer before signing it. As you suggested, the attorney can offer an assessment on the agreement and if what they’re offering you is fair, and perhaps negotiate more favorable terms on your behalf. It is common for employment lawyers to bill an hourly rate when reviewing and negotiating a severance agreement. Current data shows that the average hourly rate for a severance agreement lawyer is in the range of $200 - $350 per hour. If the employment law attorney you hire is successful in negotiating a few more months of pay in your severance package, it will certainly outweigh attorney fees of a few hundred dollars. Contact an employment lawyer to ask questions and discuss pricing structure.
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