When you receive a severance package from your employer, don’t immediately assume that it’s non-negotiable. You may have more leverage than you know. A skilled and knowledgeable employment attorney can identify where you have leverage and use it to get you more severance pay.
The first and most important thing you need to know is that you already have some leverage to begin with. When your employer offers you a severance package, they are, in essence, asking you to sell away some of your most valuable rights. And believe me, your employer is very motivated to buy this “property” from you. Why are they so motivated? Because if your employer can get you to sign that piece of paper, they can forget about you. You can’t sue them, ever, for anything they did or did not do from the beginning of time to the moment you sign the package. Most of the time, you can’t even complain about them publicly. Some times, they restrict you from working down the street for a competitor. Your right to sue, your vow of silence, your right to compete – the rights you are “selling” have a value. Your employer sets the “buy” price when it puts that severance package in front of you. Before you “sell” your rights away in a severance package, consult an employment lawyer and find out whether the “buy” price your employer is offering is fair.
I’ve had to turn away many potential clients because they didn’t understand the concept of leverage and went ahead and signed their severance package without consulting an attorney. Never, ever, sign something you don’t fully understand. Do the research, find a decent employment attorney, and spend the money for a comprehensive severance package review. Even employees without much leverage in the legal sense can have leverage in other areas, which I will save for a later post.