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A.J., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 4300
Experience:  Licensed to practice law, I have experience in Employment, Appeals, and Landlord/Tenant Law
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Hello, I was unexpectedly laid off from a job with a company

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Hello, I was unexpectedly laid off from a job with a company after 10 years of service. I was a Superintendent, no incident was a reason. I will be 62 in September. They gave me medical for about 3 weeks past my layoff, no separation pay. I received a bonus last Christmas and have good relations with other bonuses through the years. Should I request some sort of severance pay. I was laid off March 8, 2013. I am taking early retirement in September. I feel they cost me about 45,000 dollars in lost wages. My last project with the company, I worked 37 days strait, 12-14 hours per day. Then the layoff.

Doug Heise
Hello, and thank you for using Just Answer. My name isXXXXX am an employment law professional, and I look forward to answering your question this evening.

However, before I do, I want to make sure that I know where you are writing from. You listed the country as "Australia" and then the state as "Washington". Are you in the United States or in Australia? (I am only a US professional, if this is an Australia question, I will request that it be moved to the proper category).
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Sorry about that. Washington State is the answer.

Not a problem at all, I just needed to make sure.

First, although Washington state does not require that an employer provide vacation or sick time to employees, once these benefits are promised and accrued, an employer does generally have to pay out for any unused time at the end of the employment, unless they have an express written policy against doing so. This would be an issue that could be raised in a small claims complaint, as failure to pay promised benefits. For detailed information on when and how to use small claims court in Washington, the state court system provides a website at:

As for severance pay, unfortunately unless there was an employment contract in place promising severance, this is not required in Washington. Now, just because something is not required does not mean you cannot ask, they may be willing to negotiate a severance in exchange for your not bringing a suit over the vacation time, or a discrimination claim such as age discrimination. Although in the absence of a contract, employees are employed at-will, and an employer can terminate their employment without cause or notice (even where that employee has had a good record previously), it is unlawful to do so under both federal and state law if the primary reason is that employee's age, race, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation (under state law only).

So, in short, an employer is supposed to pay out unused vacation time if they do not have an express policy in place saying they will not. As for a severance, while an employer is not obligated to provide one, there may be issues that an employee can raise that would encourage an employer to provide a reasonable severance.

I hope this helps, and let me know if you require any additional information or need clarification of anything I have said. Otherwise, please remember to RATE my answer os that I can receive credit for my work.
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