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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12026
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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10 months ago we got a new boss in the department I worked

Customer Question

10 months ago we got a new boss in the department I worked in for over 12 years . Overall, I have worked for this company 34 years. I am 56 years old. I and four other employees were told that we would not be "part of the team moving forward." We were given 2 1/2 months to find a new job within the company and to prepare resumes for outside employment in case a position did not come up. Since then they have hired 6 new employees for that department. When I asked why I was not selected the new boss told me "I had something out there." I assume he was alluding to the fact that I was going to school for my MA and had plans to change jobs 6 years down the line. Fortunately, I found another job closely related to my previous job, but with in a short time it became apparent this was not going to last. For 8 months I waited for the axe to fall and it finally did. First they fired my boss, but everyone thinks he is retiring. About 2 months later I was told that my job is being eliminated. Again I was told that I could look for something else in the company. A couple of jobs came up, but they were for basically half the pay and I would lose my Assistant Vice President title. One other job came up, but it was completely out of my area of expertise. I have not been offered a severence package and was wonder how I might be able to negotiate that. I now it came up in a conversation with HR and my boss, but according to my boss nothing has been agreed upon as of yet. I know of a couple of other employees who were given severence pay in other departments. Is there anything I should do, besides walking away with my head hanging low?
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 so sorry to hear that you are being let go.

Aside from certain situations involving mass layoffs (defined as 50 or more employees within a 30 day period) as prescribed by the federal WARN act, there is no law state or federal that requires an employer to pay severance of any kind. This remains true even if other employees receive several, as there is no obligation to apply such practice uniformly unless that practice has been affirmatively established by contract (i.e., your employee handbook states "All employees shall receive a severance of X dollars in the event of a layoff), which virtually no employers will go out of their way to do.

Although severance is almost never required, employers will very often offer it if they believe they have the potential for legal exposure of some kind--for instance, a claim for discrimination based on race. In exchange for the severance money, they will require a waiver of the employee's right to sue.

Of course, you can't exactly go up to your employer and say "give me severance or I'll sue," as that would come off very threatening and could not possibly yield a favorable result. You can, however, indicate that you are willing to sign a standard waiver of all claims in exchange for severance pay and see how your employer responds. There is certainly a fine line here between being threatening and getting the point across. Further still, if your employer does not believe you have any legal basis to sue, then they may still reject your proposal even if it is tactfully raised.

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.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, I would be most grateful if you would remember to provide my service a positive rating, as this is the only way I will receive credit for 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.