Understand Your Severance Agreement Before You Sign It  

Your employer has given you a severance agreement and asked you to sign on the dotted line. As you read the severance agreement, you are happy your employer is offering to pay your salary for six months, along with your health care benefits.

However, the severance agreement contains a lot of legal language that you don’t quite understand.  Before you sign the severance agreement, make sure you understand it.  There are several issues to consider and you may need to consult an attorney to discuss them:

  1. Does the severance agreement require you to give up your legal rights under state and federal law?
  2. Does the severance agreement contain a non-compete clause?
  3. Will you be required to keep an array of information confidential?
  4. If you breach the severance agreement, will your employer be able to obtain a restraining order against you?
  5. Will your employer be able to demand attorneys’ fees, if it prevails in a claim against you for breach of the severance agreement?
  6. Are you age 40 or over? If so, does the severance agreement comply with the legal requirements for a “knowing and voluntary” release of age discrimination claims?

It would be in your best interest to get a lawyer to review the severance agreement with you so that you understand the provisions.   After all, if you don’t understand the terms of the severance agreement, how can you avoid breaching it?