Many employees give in the temptation of accepting a lump sum severance upon termination, even when the lawfulness of that termination is questionable. If you find yourself with an offer of severance, I highly recommend that you take your time to consider the severance offer before you accept it.
One of the common reasons that an employer may offer severance to the employee who is about to be terminated is because the circumstances of the termination are questionable and might give rise to legal action by employee. An employer usually requires an employee to sign General Release of All Claims in exchange for severance compensation. By signing that release, the terminated employee waives any and all rights to pursue legal action against the employer. Often, by accepting the severance package, the employee, gives up on his ability to pursue legal claims that might be ground for a much greater compensation / damages. But even if the employer conduct is not tainted with unlawful practice and termination, your severance offer might be highly negotiable.
Regardless of of the terms or your employment and severance payment, you have the right to consult an attorney when executing the severance agreement (most severance agreements remind the employee that he has the right to be represented by an attorney in accepting the severance contract).
If you would like to discuss the terms of your lay-off/resignation/termination with a qualified professional, contact Arkady Itkin – San Francisco employment lawyer to discuss your employment separation.