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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12801
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I work in advertising and am getting off by company (a

Customer Question

I work in advertising and am getting laid off by company (a result of a client switching agencies.)
I have been working for the company for 3 years and am being offered 6 weeks of severance pay: 2 weeks for 1st year of service, 1 week each for year 2 and 3 and 2 weeks for release.
In addition, I am a senior manager and am 51 years old (not easy to find a new job.)
Would you please let me know whether the severance offer that I received is far?
Thanks.
--Bea
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.
Insofar as severance is concerned, it is useful to first understand that an employer's only legal obligation to provide severance is derived from something called the WARN Act. WARN requires employers to provide either 60 day's notice of a mass layoff (which it seems this would qualify as) or, in the alternative, 60 day's wages. This is an employer's ONLY legal obligation with respect to severance. If they provide 60 day's notice, there is no legal obligation to pay any severance at all barring some sort of provision in your employment contract that requires severance, and that would be unusual.
Sometimes employers offer severance purely out of good will, but in the vast majority of circumstances, it is because in exchange they want a waiver of the employee's right to bring legal claims against their employer. Now, just because an employer wants a waiver of the employee's right to sue doesn't mean the employee has a legal basis to sue. In all states but Montana, employment is "at will" absent an express agreement to the contrary, and so employees can be fired for virtually any non-discriminatory reason.
In the context of a mass layoff, it would be very hard to argue that one's termination is discriminatory (based on a legally protected trait, like age) because the employer is releasing many other individuals at the same time. It's not as though one employee is being targeted. Therefore, unless you have particularly compelling evidence to suggest a discriminatory motive for why you are being included in this layoff, the threat of a legal action (implicit or explicit) by you is probably not going to give you much leverage to negotiate your severance package.
A standard measure for calculating severance is one week for every year of service, so the fact that you are receiving more than that would suggest that this offer is certainly fair. Can you attempt to negotiate more? Certainly. But conversely, your employer can withdraw severance altogether to the extent that are not obligated to pay anything under WARN. So caution is advised in that respect.
I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.
If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
This is not a mass layoff. My team is quite small…just me and one junior person. The junior person is being reassigned to other work in the agency.Please let me know if the package that I am being offered seems fair…yes or not. (Assuming an answer isn't going to cost me extra $.)Thanks.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
The package you are being offered seems fair and in line with what most companies would offer under the circumstances you have described. Since it is not a mass layoff, there is no entitlement to any severance money under WARN, and since you indicate that you are being laid off due to a client switching agencies there is really no basis to argue wrongful termination and, thus, there would not be any leverage to demand more in severance.
Again, please feel free to let me know if you have any further concerns. If I have answered your question, I would be very grateful for a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you.
Very best wishes.