Do I have ground for increase severance since I was not given 4 weeks notice per employee handbook?

After working almost 10 years for this particular institution, I was recently terminated from my position and given 7 days notice however, the employee handbook which I signed electronically states the following
Where not otherwise covered by an agreement, will provide 4 weeks advance notice to full-time faculty member if the faculty members services are no longer required, unless the faculty members performance or conduct require an earlier termination.
Also, I have been offered 10 weeks of severance, and when I asked, was sent an email stating that the reason for the termination is because the available teaching load does not support a full time faculty member.
Do I have any recourse in this matter concerning not receiving the advance notice? Also, is the 10 weeks of severance typical for my length of employment? I am in Louisiana, BTW.

Asked on October 21, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Louisiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

1) Remember that severance is never required: some people (many, in fact) do not receive it, and when workers do get it, the amount they get is 100% up to the employer unless there was an in-effect written contract requiring it. There is no way to force the employer to give you more severance unless  they are violating the severance provisions of a contract. 
2) 4 weeks notice requirement means that--even if it were enforceable (see  below)--that if you did not receive sufficient notice, you would get that amount of pay: e.g. 4 weeks (or another 3, since you did receive 1 week of notice). But you are receiving 10 weeks, or more than the notice period. Therefore, even if the notice period were enforceable, you are already receiving more than the notice period would give you and so the notice requirement would not entitle you to any more.
3) Most employee handbooks are not enforceable because they contain language or terms limiting their enforceability. Any language like the below would make the employee handbook not enforceable: "All employment is employment at will"; "Policies subject to change"; "Nothing in this handbook creates a guaranty or contract of employment."
4) When people do get severance, the two most common amounts seem to be 1 week per year of severance, or a base of 2 weeks plus an additional 1 week per year.

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