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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 11885
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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Customer Question

I was recently laid off after 6 years with my company. They have offered a sparation agreemtn that includes 11 weeks of severance, 7 months of COBRA coverage and a percentage of next March's bonus plan. I am 66 years old and the odds of me finding another job are slim. At a minimum I would like more severance (maybe 20 weeks) and for it to be paid in 2013 for tax implications.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. I am very sorry to hear that you are being let go.

Can you please clarify for me what your question is?

I very much look forward to assisting you regarding this matter.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

My question is as follows; Would I be justified in asking for more severance pay and payment in 2013?

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Thank you very much for your reply.

Absent certain very limited circumstances involving mass layoffs at large companies as provided by the WARN Act, an employer is unfortunately under no legal obligation to provide any severance at all. The payment of severance is a matter leftr purely to the discretion of the employer, and so employees have little leverage to demand greater severance or that severance be received at all.

What I can tell you is that 7 weeks of severance is within the range of severance amounts typically offered and that 20 months of severance would typically be provided onlny where the employee was waiving their right to sue for a legitimate claim of sexual harassment, a wage dispute, or something else, where the employer itself gains something of value (eliminating the risk of a large judgment obtained against them) through the agreement.

With regard to having the severance paid the following calendar year, this would not ordinarily change the tax liability because severance is technically a "wage earned" while employed. Thus, even if severance is paid at a later date, it would ordinarily be taxable in the year in which separation of employment occurred.

So to summarize, since there is no legal obligation to pay severance, an employee regretfully has little leverage to demand more severance or severance paid on different terms. Seven weeks is within the range of normal, and 20 weeks would typically be considered only where the employee was waiving their right to bring a legitimate legal claim for sexual harassment, a wage dispute, or something else.

I realize that the law is not entirely in your favor here and I am truly sorry to have to deliver bad news. Nonetheless, I trust that you will appreciate an accurate explanation of the law and realize that it would be unprofessional of me and unfair to you to provide you with anything less.

I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX this information helps you and I wish you the best.

If you do not have any further concerns, I would be very grateful if you would give my answer a positive rating and click submit, as this is the only way I will receive credit for assisting you. If you have any additional concerns that you would like me to address, please feel free to let me know by hitting the REPLY or CONTINUE CONVERSATION button and I will be more than happy to continue assisting you.

Finally, please bear in mind that none of the above constitutes legal advice nor is any attorney client relationship created between us.

Thank you and very kindest regards.

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