Can an employer rescind a severance packet after 21 days if the employee already signed it?

My husband was told he would be losing his job and given a severance packet by his employer. He signed it and turned it in. About 6 weeks later two weeks before his job was going to end his employer advised him they would like to keep him and told him that even if he chose to leave they would not honor the severance. Can they do this?

Asked on May 17, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Actually, this appears to be legal given the few specifics provided. Absent wording in the agreemnt to the contrary, it was predicated on your husband's being laid off. Therefore, since that is an event that never occurred, his employer was free to rescind the severance package.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, they can do this: the severance they agreed to pay is something your husband would receive when he is laid off; therefore, if he is not in fact laid off, there is no obligation to pay severance. The obligation to pay severance is contingent on being laid off.

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