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LawTalk, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 37855
Experience:  I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
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Questions regarding Severance Agreement in California: Ive

Customer Question

Questions regarding Severance Agreement in California: Ive been laid off from my work last Thursday 1/31. My employer provided me a Severance Agreement. At the end of the document it says "If this agreeement is acceptable to you, please sign and return the original to me no later than 2/8 at 5PM." Considering there were no notification for layoff until 1/31, one week to review or get legal consultant about the Severance Agreement seems to be awfully short notice. Ive asked for extention of the deadline, but the employer refused. What would happen if I don't meet their deadline? Would I lose my unemployment benefit?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  LawTalk replied 4 years ago.
Good evening,
I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service this evening.
Refusing to sign the severance agreement will not make you ineligible for unemployment benefits. However, it may well mean that the employer withdraws the offer of severance altogether, and simply proceeds to lay you off. Severance agreements are not a matter of right under CA law, but are left to the discretion of the employer.
Under the law, unless they are forcing you to waive any claim for age discrimination, there is no minimum amount of time that must be granted you to review and sign a severance agreement.
As for a severance package in CA---keep in mind that if the money you get is not stated in a writing as compensation for you giving up any rights you might have to sue the employer---if it is simply a lump sum of money, then unemployment will consider it wages and you will be ineligible for unemployment benefits until the number of weeks has passed which equals the weekly pay you received before termination divided into the amount of severance pay you receive. If you have to give up the right to sue in writing in order to get the severance, then you will be eligible for unemployment immediately.
You may reply back to me again, using the Reply to Expert link, if you have additional questions.
I wish you the best in your future,
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

hi-- Thank you for your response. Actually, could I ask you to review the Severance Agreement from my company in this session? Here's the link to the doc: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX I am willing to sign this doc if: 1. I could extend the deadline til 2/13 2. If there's nothing illegal by State/Federal law In any case, what can I do to request extension to submit this agreement? It's putting me & my family under enormous stress while we're traveling. All Im hoping is to have a reasonable amount of time to understand then sign. Thanks!

Expert:  LawTalk replied 4 years ago.
Good evening,
I would love to be able to represent you---but under the Terms of Service of JustAnswer, I am prohibited from representing you, or acting as your attorney. Clearly my review of your agreement---regardless of the fact that I am a licensed employment law attorney in CA for nearly 30 years---would violate my obligation to JustAnswer, and therefore I cannot review it.
Because we do not represent customers of JustAnswer, we can help you for a fraction of the cost that I would charge if I actually represented you. In real life, you would pay in excess of $500 to have your Agreement reviewed and a conference with me in my office. Just Answer prohibits me from providing that service to you.
Be that as it may, my review of the agreement has nothing to do with your ability to force a continuance of your signing the agreement beyond the time given you already---which is what you are clearly seeking. As I already suggested, unless you are being asked to waive any claim of age discrimination---there is no law demanding that you have any time to decide whether to sign or not---much less any time to consult with your lawyer.
As for any illegality of state or federal law---I can assure you that is they try to violate state or federal law in the Agreement, any court in CA would hold that specific clause legally unenforceable. Severance agreements are almost universally drafted by experienced employment law attorneys, and there are not going to be unlawful clauses in the agreement.
If you want and extension of time to review and sign the Agreement--all you can do is ask for that time. You have no other remedy under the law.
I empathize with the fact that you may be away from home at this point in time, but that does not affect the impact of the law on your options---I'm sorry.
Please remember to rate my service to you when our communication is completed, so that I will be compensated for my time in providing you with the information you requested. I will be happy to continue further, and to assist you until I am able to address your concerns, to your satisfaction.
I wish you and your family well in your futures,