What to do when you get a severance package

What to do when you get a severance package?

Often, when we receive calls from folks who were recently presented with severance packages, they are feeling overwhelmed, both by the significant life event taking place and by the stack of paperwork that they were handed. A recent caller stated that she had never before seen a sentence go on for a full paragraph. That is why it is so important to thoroughly review and understand what you are being handed before signing.

When we consult with individuals in this situation, we always want to see all documents that were signed during the time of employment that may survive the separation. This includes, but it is not limited to, confidentiality agreements, restrictive covenant agreements, etc. Additionally, we will ask to see all documents received as a part of their severance package, this may include a release, outplacement information, COBRA information and reminders of agreements previously entered.

In looking through all this documentation and during consultation, it is important to consider these key points:

• What are exactly are you releasing?
• What covenants may survive this severance? And, how could these effect your job search and future career?
• What exactly can you say or not say? And to whom?
• What parts of this agreement and your employment are considered confidential?
• Is there a reason not sign the package? Do you potentially have a wrongful termination claim?
• And lastly, but most importantly, do you really understand all the legal mumbo-jumbo being presented?

It is critical to understand what you are entering into when executing any legally enforceable agreement. If you aren’t sure, then ask questions. If you still aren’t sure, then it may be time to consult an attorney.