Employment Law Questions? Ask an Employment Lawyer.
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Under the federal WARN Act, an employer with at least 100 employees that lays off at least 50 during a 30-day period must either give 60 days notice of the lay off or pay 60 days wages. This is the only circumstance in which severance is ever required by law. Since there is no law which otherwise requires severance, no law requires employers to give particular credit to employees based on tenure or veteran status. The amount an employer offers in severance is completely discretionary and usually a function of the perceived "litigation risk of the employee," since an employer's primary motivation for offering severance is to obtain a waiver of any rights that employee may have to sue in exchange.
So, to answer your question about what is required, the answer is "nothing" unless the WARN act applies. Severance is negotiated on a case by case basis and more or less will be offered depending on whether the employee might have some basis to allege discrimination (age, race, religion, etc.) or some other unlawful basis for their termination.
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