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NYFamilyAttorney, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 570
Experience:  Owner, attorney in private practice, licensed for 36 years as a trial and appellate attorney
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I have been with the same employer years. Last two months a

Customer Question

Hello! I have been with the same employer for 10 years. Last two months a made a few minor mistakes (i do admin work) and they gave me a warning and i know they are trying to fire me. Here is my question:
They don't care, they are ready to through me out when ever its convenient for them. So i want to negotiate a better package and leave. They offered me 1 wk of severance per year i worked. This is way below standard. Standard is 2 weeks per year. How do i do it?
Can i actually negotiate a better severance? Do i need to let them know now that i intend to press charges ? How do i achieve the outcome that i want, which is to get full severance and leave?
Also, i have 9 years of official good year end reviews. Do i need to request these records?
They are putting me through a living hell now. Do i need to let them know that i will be pressing charges for emotional and mental damages?
The reason i want to do this is because i know for a fact that this is not going to work out. They are asking me to do things i never done, they are asking me to learn new computer software, and my mind is on school. If i felt like i could do this i would. Its not the question of if its the question of how soon they will fire me. That's why i want to proceed with severance.
I just took a $40K loan to go to school to change my career, i can't mess it up!
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

Hello. I’m a licensed attorney with 36 years’ experience. I specialize in family law and appeals, and I have many years’ experience with landlord-tenant issues, employment and contract law. I also have written hundreds of legal articles. I look forward to helping you today.

Please note:This is general information and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an attorney on this site.

At the end of this session, I will ask you to please rate me as that’s the only way I get credit for helping you today. Thanks! Please note: I want to help you but I may need some additional information from you. Are you okay with rating me? I would really appreciate it!

Also – I will be typing my answer for you so I’ll be back asap.

Do you have an employment contract with this company? If so, are there any provisions in there about severance?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I am not sure if i have an employment contract.
Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

Okay, thank you. Do you have a union and do you belong to it? I'm trying to see if there is anything outside a usual at-will hiring.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
nop, no unio. I am EA and i have been with the same firm for 10 years
Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

Okay thanks. I'm checking all loopholes that may have been in your employment.

You should check to see if you have an employment contract. You may be protected better than you think.

Did the employer make any verbal promises or written promises for a particular amount of severance in the past, to you?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
NO, we never had that conversation.
Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

Okay, thanks. Also, if you're over 40 you may have certain protections. Just checking and then I'll give you some pointers on how to negotiate for more. So if you're over 40, I'd need to know that.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
i am 43
Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

Okay, great.

Actually, in NY, where I'm licensed,there is no right for severance but they usually do give severance anyway.

They must give you at least 21 days to sign a severance deal if you are 40 or older and it requires you to waive your right to sue for age discrimination.

Generally, there is no legal obligation for a company to pay severance unless you have a written contract stating that severance will be paid, oral promises are given regarding severance pay, there is a documented policy of paying severance in a company manual or handbook, the employer voluntarily offers to pay severance, or other employees in similar positions have received severance pay in the past.

That being said, you have some leverage here -- your time with the company and your age. They don't want a lawsuit for age discrimination.

If you think you're going to be fired or are fired, request an additional negotiating session to discuss your severance package.

  • Stall for time and try not to accept the company’s first offer.
  • Appeal to corporate decency and fair play at the initial meeting. For example, it is better to say, “I am 43 years old and have to pay for two children in college right now, and your offer of just four weeks’ severance will probably put me on the road to financial ruin, since it is unlikely that I can find another comparable job in four weeks,” rather than, “If you don’t pay me more money, I will sue.” You can hint that there may be age discrimination at play here but this is where you're going to negotiate for a better deal for yourself. It's going to require some courage without having an employment attorney with you, but particularly if you work in NYC or surrounding suburbs, employment lawyers can be expensive.
Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

Recognize that by asking for many, such as 10 items, you may be able to get the company to settle for some of them such as 5.

  • Confirm all arrangements in writing to document the final deal of severance and post-termination benefits; do not accept the company’s promise that “everything will work out.”
  • Insist on receiving more money and other benefits before signing any release or waiver of age discrimination claims.
  • Do not rely on promises from the company that you will receive a favorable job reference. Rather, draft your own favorable letter of reference and get an officer or your supervisor to sign the letter of reference before you depart.
Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.
  • Be cautious when the employer asks you to sign a release, because you may be waiving valuable rights and benefits in the process.
  • Go above him or her if you don’t achieve what you’re seeking.
  • Never be pressured by the employer into signing a release or making a fast decision.
  • Be persistent; don’t become demoralized.
  • Know your rights, ask questions, and demand answers.

Yes, request your records too. That doesn't mean you're going to get them but ask. NY doesn't have access laws like other states have. Generally, an employee is allowed to see evaluations, performance reviews, and other documents that determine a promotion, bonus, or raise; access usually does not include letters of reference, test results, or records of a criminal or workplace violation investigation.

Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

By reviewing this conversation, you will become your own advocate and can speak for yourself in asking for more severance. I've seen places where it's one month severance for each year! Don't be afraid to ask.

Does this answer your question? I am more than happy to answer additional questions based on this one if you want.

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Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

If you do decide you want an employment attorney, let me know and I can find a list of employment lawyers in your area and let you know how to pick one. That's entirely up to you.

Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

This should give you many tools to work with to become your own advocate. You can write these down and refer to them as you're negotiating.

Thank you in advance for rating me. It means a lot to me. I don't get credit without being rated the top three faces/stars and I always go out of my way to make sure my customers have thorough and complete answers. Thank you and I wish you the best of luck!

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