You're letting one or more workers go—should you offer severance? If so, how much? And will the severance payment and agreement fully protect you from the possibility of a future lawsuit?
What about if an employee files a discrimination claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Equal Pay Act, can the company demand the return of funds received in exchange for the employee signing a release of rights? A recent ruling out of the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals addresses the “tender-back” doctrine and the timing of getting severance payback.
And, recently a federal court in Mississippi ruled that an employee terminated as part of a reduction in force who signed a release agreement, received more than $16,000 in severance pay and then filed a wrongful discharge claim didn't have to return the money to the company. Fair? Perhaps not, but when it comes to severance agreements, the law isn’t always on the employer’s side.
While a signed severance agreement can provide some protection from future litigation, it's not an ironclad guarantee—and some risks simply cannot be waived as evidenced by the cases above. Additionally, if you go about it the wrong way, you may actually be increasing your lawsuit risks. Yikes!
But, fear not! Help is here in the form of our brand-new webinar with Patrice Nagle, an attorney with Fisher Phillips.
Join us on October 16 when she'll go through the ins and outs of the good, the bad, and the prohibited when it comes to severance agreements—so you can be confident that you’re reducing your legal risks rather than adding to them.
- The keys to severance agreement compliance—what you can say, what you should never say, and everything in between
- Whether it's a good idea to allow someone to resign (rather than being terminated) to avoid having to explain a firing to future employers
- Tips for drafting an effective severance or separation agreement, including the use of plain English
- The types of claims you're permitted to release with proper monetary consideration—and the ones you simply can't
- Pointers on how to best communicate with your employees about their severance agreements, what they can and can't do, and ways to answer common employee questions
- Tips for handling employees who may become combative or litigious when faced with termination
- Language that should be included in every severance agreement
- Special rules that apply to older workers who are protected by the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, and the practical impact these rules have on your severance agreements
- How to avoid any hint of coercion in your conversations with departing workers
- What to do when an employee refuses to sign—or threatens to sue
- Practical strategies on how to review your company's severance agreements before you need them
- Severance health benefits, which raise COBRA interaction issues
- Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act) and Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) tripwires to avoid in the case of a reduction in force
- And much more!
Register now for this webinar, featuring live Q&A, to learn how severance agreements done right can help protect your company when you need to let someone go.
YOUR EXPERT INSTRUCTOR
Patrice Nagle, Esq.
Patrice Nagle is an associate in Fisher Phillips LLP’s San Diego office. She represents and counsels employers in all aspects of labor and employment law, including employment discrimination, wrongful termination, harassment, retaliation, and wage-hour class action lawsuits, as well as employment handbook and personnel policy preparation, and general preventive advice including hiring, discipline, and termination. She has experience litigating matters in state and federal courts, state administrative tribunals, and in arbitration.
Prior to joining Fisher Phillips, Nagle was an associate at a San Diego based law firm focusing on the representation of public school districts and private educational institutions. Before entering the practice of law, Nagle earned her Master of Education degree and worked as a teacher and administrator at private boarding schools in Switzerland and Massachusetts.
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