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LawTalk, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 1241
Experience:  I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
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Accept 2 week Severance and move on, renegotiate better

Customer Question

Accept 2 week Severance and move on, renegotiate better severance w/ good reference, or revoke for potential claims - wrongful term, overtime, etc?
Summary of facts: I started working w/ company as a temp through a staffing agency in April 2015 but I was paid hourly $45/hr, given overtime and no benefits. I was converted to a company employee July 20th, 2015; however, at this time I was switched to an exempt employee w/ no overtime but also only labeled temporary so I didn't get any benefits like vacation or holiday pay. Around the beginning of 2016 they ask if I wanted to be a full time employee and I said sure, sounds great. They said long term we would like this position to be in northern Cali would that be okay. I said I would have to think about such a big move and the pay would have to be adjusted for the high Bay area cost of living. Later they came back and said all we can pay you is what we pay the other Snr Accountant up here in N. Cali per our budget. I said I'll accept the salary decrease if that's what you pay him, even though I have more experience and more education.
On May 3rd, 2016 I received an email saying to immediately sign the change of status form to complete payroll that was due that day, which lowered my pay (to supposedly the other Snr Accountants pay) and made me full-time. I noticed the form said effective April 16th and I asked why it was being backdated, which cost me about $1,000 in pay. They said it's what the HR director said to do and she's out of the office and it's the way it'll have to be for now. I emailed the HR director to do a true-up adjustment but she never responded.
It also came to my attention the other Snr Accountant actually was being paid $8K more per year, which was much more than I was told he was being paid. I was LIED to. I explained that I needed to be paid adequately and as agreed to make a move to the Bay area. I never agreed on a certain move date. Additionally, that was assuming they held up their end of the promises, which they didn't.
In the end, I was fired with the reason being I didn't move to N. Cali on July 1st. They still have S Cali office w/ multiple departments working remotely from it but they wanted to have this hard line stance regarding the accounting dept and me. I have had zero negative comments about my work.
During the exit interview they said we need you to sign a few documents. I felt very coerced to say the least.
1. Severance agreement. Agreed to pay me $3,125 (1/2 month pay). It really didn't seem like an option not to sign it because they only had one check there and it included the severance pay. I already cashed the check. If I didn't accept the severance they would of had to give me the severance anyway as that was the only check they cut.
2. Non-Solicitation agreement. I had no idea what this was but in hindsight this agreement is not right. First, I wasn't given any consideration for this agreement and it was POST employment. Secondly, how can I even work in the same industry w/ such restrains on me working? Nearly all competitors of company have the same distributors, suppliers, manufacturers, customers, etc.
In summary, should I revoke this severance agreement? I actually already did yesterday to protect my rights. I'm not sure if they'll mail me a bill to pay them back the $3,125 severance. I would think at least a 6 week severance would be appropriate considering the circumstances. Would I have to return the severance pay I already deposited as it was combined w/ my other wages on the same check. I'm thinking they owe me at the very least the backdated pay change that cost me over $1,000. Additionally, they lied to me about the pay I would be paid, which would equal the other Snr Accountants, which cost me about $2,000 during the applicable time period. Additionally, I'm wondering if overtime pay is due. My duties were basic book keeping duties. I was in charge of bank reconciliations, and a handful of journal entries, which were very basic. I'm also wondering if there is a wrongful termination claim here as well? I did email the HR Director in May 2016 if I could be given "comp time" for all the overtime I worked and she said "comp time" is actually illegal and only for federal employees.
I'm thinking just a quick email from an attorney w/ valid reasons might raise the severance pay up to 4 or 6 week of pay instead of just 2. Additionally, my boss refuses to give me a good reference, which I'd think should be included in the severance. FYI: I'm a white male and under 40.
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 months ago.

Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

Has it been more than 7 days since you signed the agreement?

You realize none of the experts on this site are allowed to represent anyone from this site so we cannot write any letters for you?

You were an at will employee with this company, correct?

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