Losing a job is always an uncomfortable and stressful experience, and it can get complicated when you are offered a severance agreement. A severance agreement is a legally binding document between you and your employer that outlines the benefits you’ll receive upon termination.
Unfortunately, many employees do not fully understand the terms and conditions of their severance agreement, which could result in missed opportunities, unpaid wages or benefits, and even legal repercussions. Therefore, it is always in a former employee’s best interest to have a severance agreement reviewed by an attorney, especially one who understands Colorado law.
This blog post will discuss seven critical reasons why having an attorney review your severance agreement in Colorado is crucial.
What Is a Severance Agreement
A severance agreement is a contract entered into at the end of employment that serves to both provide the employee with compensation and/or benefits in exchange for a release of potential claims. The uniquely complex role severance agreements play in the Colorado workforce cannot be overstated. They are small but irreplaceable components of employment, acting as a means to tie up loose ends at the end of an employment relationship to protect individuals and companies alike should the arrangement end on a sour note. Without these agreements, employers and employees would face a disorienting and unregulated terrain where both sides could feel slighted or wronged and may both have claims.
Reasons Why You Should Have an Attorney Review the Severance Agreement
The Severance Amount
Even in difficult circumstances, it’s important for employees to have their severance agreements reviewed by an attorney. Doing so can give them insight into whether they’re receiving a fair severance amount and whether or not there is more that they should ask for, and what they are giving up in exchange for receiving it.
With this legal review, there’s a better chance of ex-employees collecting everything to which they are entitled and ensuring that there is a fair exchange. A lawyer can review your specific set of facts and provide sound advice based on your unique situation.
Release and Waiver of Rights
With the current unprecedented times causing job loss and furloughs, it is more important than ever to ensure that you thoroughly review any severance agreement before signing the document. An experienced attorney can provide this kind of deep analysis and identify any critical details the agreement may contain.
The attorney can also help you negotiate better terms for yourself or even challenge certain agreement parts. Should you feel uncomfortable with any of the offered terms, having an attorney review them will better help put both parties on an equal legal footing and ensure that your interests are properly safeguarded.
Employees over 40
In particular, it is essential for employees over 40 to have an attorney review their severance agreement. The Older Worker Benefit Protection Act provides employees over 40 with specific rights and protections in connection with a severance agreement. An attorney can provide legal assistance by helping an employee understand the implications of the agreement and to ensure that the employer is following all the requirements of the OWBPA.
Additionally, an experienced Colorado attorney can help ensure that the agreement complies with any state law requirements. .
Non-Disparagement Clause and References
It is also crucial to understand a severance agreement because it may also contain provisions that an employee may not expect, such as a a non-disparagement clause. It is important to understand what these clauses mean for what an employee can or cannot do after signing the agreement, and how they can be negotiated.
Employees are necessarily at a disadvantage when it comes to negotiating the terms of a severance agreement, which is where an attorney comes in. A skilled lawyer can assess the risks and legal implications of the agreement, and provide leverage to an employee to ensure their best interests are represented. By seeking counsel, an employee can rest assured that their rights are protected and that they have made informed decisions.
In Colorado in particular, it is important to understand whether your severance agreement contains a non-compete clause and, if so, if it is reasonable and enforceable. Such a provision can have a significant impact on the terminated employee’s ability to pursue their career in the future, or where they can do so.
An attorney’s expertise in this area can guide individuals in preserving their ability to seek out new opportunities and avoid being restricted in their job search. An attorney provides a sense of security during an otherwise challenging transition by ensuring that a non-compete clause is lawful and not overly broad or restrictive.
With assistance from legal counsel, terminated employees can be confident in their ability to move forward and achieve their career goals.
Benefits Upon Termination
It is also crucial that employees understand what benefits they are entitled to upon termination. Understanding your options when it comes to health insurance, unemployment benefits, and retirement accounts can prove to be an essential lifeline that helps many jobless individuals navigate the challenges of job transition. However, with so many moving parts, it can be challenging to keep it all straight.
In such cases, the guidance of an attorney can be indispensable. A skilled legal professionals can offer invaluable advice on reviewing severance agreements to ensure they align with the law, giving them the tools they need to safeguard their future even under the most trying circumstances.
It is important to understand what wages you may be owed at termination, and to ensure that those are addressed in your severance agreement. An experienced attorney can skillfully navigate the complexities of labor laws and regulations to identify any unpaid wages or benefits that may have been overlooked and ensure that the employee is rightfully compensated.
Such situations call for the expertise of a legal professional who can guide employers through the necessary steps to rectify any mistakes and mitigate any potential legal consequences.
The importance of having an experienced attorney review a severance agreement in Colorado cannot be underestimated. Whether it is to prevent wrongfully established non-compete clauses, gain an understanding of what benefits an employee is entitled to, or negotiate monetary payments, having a knowledgeable attorney who understands employment law can make a vast difference to you as an employee.
Given the differences between at-will and contract employees, and additional state and local regulations in Colorado that may affect your rights, your best bet is to research a reliable law firm before becoming involved with negotiating severance. Contact Bourassa Law Group for a consultation today and take the necessary steps to protect yourself in this ever-changing employment law landscape.
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