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Patrick, Esq.
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Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I am 66 years old, I am the Financial Manager Travel Agency

Customer Question

I am 66 years old, I am the Financial Manager for a Travel Agency in Houston, TX.
I am currently looking into retiring at the end of the year at least I thought. The president of the company had to layoff two workers this year not by his choice but by a overseas contractor. At least we were told he is not employed with the company but as a contractor. We are owned by Sonangol/Sonair in Luanda. Sorry my real question is with the two layoffs they made for unused vacations. Which I understand that, but they also give them severance package for the years worked. I was told by my boss all I would receive was unused vacation. I have worked for the company for 13years. Never was written up, late etc. I was also a whistle blower for the previous president that he was using company funds for his personal use, by showing the actually charges. He was let go with a good package also. I am sure they did not want to go with having to pay for a attorney. This just seem unfair. He said I was quitting so that is all I would get. I am not quitting I want to retire because of my health. What should I do? I only will have social security, I am not married but I have a special friend in the household who is handicapped. I am at a lost, should I try to work until I reach full retirement? I think it is 72 or do I hope they lay me off. Would like to have a little something so I can have for a emergency. Would appreciate your advice. Thank You
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.

Employers have no legal obligation to offer severance except in certain very limited circumstances involving mass layoffs which would be inapplicable here. Employers generally offer severance in exchange for a waiver of the departing employee's right to sue. The amount of severance will therefore be a function of the perceived litigation risk the employee presents. It is the employer's judgment call what to offer based on the circumstances.

When an employee quits or retires, they would typically have no basis to sue their employer because they are voluntarily initiating their own unemployment. This is why you are being offered less than other employees who were laid off. The employer does not perceive any serious litigation risk posed by your departure.

The fact you may have been a "whistleblower" would not matter for a couple reasons. First, unless you reported this use of funds to a government agency (i.e. the IRS), you would not typically be covered under any whistleblower statute. Second, even if you were covered and this whistleblowing was protected conduct, you still cannot link that protected conduct to any adverse employment action because you are retiring, not being forced out against your will. If you were being laid off, you might be able to argue that the excuse of a "layoff" is really just a pretense for retaliating against you because you were a whistleblower. But this argument is a non-starter is you are voluntarily leaving your job. You can't argue that your employer is retaliating against you for something you have voluntarily decided to do.

So, perhaps it would be best for you to continue working until you reach full retirement or until you are laid off, in which case your employer might be more inclined to offer severance. Of course, how you choose to proceed is a decision only you can make.

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.

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hello again,

I just wanted to followup with you to make sure that you did not have any further questions or concerns as it has been a few hours and I have not heard back from you. For some unknown reason, the experts are not always getting replies or ratings (which is how we get credit for our work) that the customer thinks have gone through. In your case I have not yet received either. If you are having technical difficulties with reading, replying or rating, please let me know so that I can inform the site administrator.

In any event, it was a pleasure assisting you and I would be glad to attempt to assist you further on this issue, or a new legal issue, if needed.

Very best wishes.

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