7 Tips on Negotiating Severance

If you suspect or are completely aware that you are about to be presented with a separation agreement at work, you might want to start thinking about your severance package. What’s important to you? What do you expect? What can you accept? What can you NOT accept? If you have no idea where to start when attempting to outline a basic needs and wants list for your soon to be presented severance package, take a few minutes to figure it out before you are asked for a decision on the matter.

Here are 7 Things to Consider in Relation to Any Severance:

  1. Know both sides of the agreement: Don’t just know what you’re getting from the company; know what the company is getting from you. And vice versa. You separation agreement signature is worth money since it limits the number legal issues you, the “terminated employee”, can bring against the company.
  2. The range of potential financial outcomes is “wide”: Top executives can usually expect to see their severance terms spelled out in their contract of employment. For others, from corporate ranks to upper-level management, things are more unclear. Informal guidelines and the rule of thumb come into play. The rough average is two weeks of pay for every year of employment (it can range from 1-4 weeks depending upon the circumstances at hand).
  3. What you get depends on specific factors: Tenure on the job, performance records, reason for the termination, etc. can all come into play when the numbers are being discussed.
  4. Work History: The first thing you probably want to examine with an employment lawyer in relation to severance negotiations are any documents that are available that chart your history at the company and how well you performed for them on the job. Documentation could determine whether you have a discrimination case to pursue or not. At the very least, hints of untoward behavior could lead to increased leverage for you during negotiations.
  5. Your knowledge of company flexibility: It’s useful if you have some knowledge regarding what is off limits and what you can openly ask for when negotiating your severance. Some things are simply outside of your boss’s control. For instance, your boss can’t make exceptions to laws in place. There’s also not a lot of leeway regarding employee benefits. But many employers have funds earmarked for outplacement services.
  6. Tap into relationships: If it’s useful, call relationships you have with bosses, human resource directors, etc. into play during negotiations. It can make a difference. If you have a close relationship with the boss or someone who will be on the other side of the severance negotiation table use it. And make sure to let you employment lawyer know that the relationship exists, too.
  7. Look to the future: It’s not all about money. This agreement could affect your long-term career. You want to consider future job references and work history, etc. before you sign off on the severance.

Remember, at that first meeting when you are presented with your severance, you’ll be in shock. Even if it’s not a complete surprise, don’t sign anything. Try to politely request a meeting at a later date to wrap things up and get in touch with an employment law attorney at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik to handle your severance negotiation

Severance and Release Agreements

Don’t Sign Anything Until You Have Talked to Us

If you are leaving a company and have an option to sign an employment contract such as a severance or release agreement, we have strong advice: don’t do it without consulting a lawyer first. Businesses use severance agreements to protect themselves in a variety of ways. The truth is they really don’t care that much about protecting the rights or futures of their employees. Often, release contracts are loaded with illegal and one-sided provisions designed to restrict employees’ rights on the job market, while paying employees as little as possible to ensure business interests are protected. In fact, many of these agreements are in violation of wage-and-hour laws.


Free Consultation ▪ Extensive Experience ▪ Maximum Compensation

The attorneys of Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik in La Jolla, California, have been representing employees in class action litigation against their former employers since 1999. We have an excellent record of protecting our clients’ rights and financial interests in matters relating to severance packages, release agreements and employment contracts.

Talk to one of our experienced employment law attorneys before you sign. Contact us today. We can help you understand what is included in the employment contract you’re signing and how it will affect your future. With our vast knowledge of employment laws and labor laws, your matter will be handled professionally and with great care.

We will examine your agreement and explain:


  • Your capacity to seek work in your chosen profession
  • Your final severance payout
  • Tax consequences
  • Independent contractor status
  • Language about your performance on the job
  • Your independent use of trademarks, copyrights and intellectual property

Can You Be Part of a Class Action Lawsuit?

In many cases, companies that ask employees to sign and accept illegal severance packages and separation agreements are following illegal policies. If you are the first plaintiff to step forward and start a class action lawsuit against your employer, you may be eligible to receive other compensation in addition to a settlement or jury award.

Don’t sign an employment contract or accept anything without knowing how it will affect your long-term prospects. Contact us to discuss the severance package you’ve been offered. Our lawyers represent employees in class action lawsuits against employers in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, San Francisco and Santa Clara, and throughout California.