Severance package

Our company was acquired by another. I was informed last June that my
services were no longer going to be needed and my severance and end
date was put in writing which I signed and agreed to. A couple days before
that end date I was asked if they could extend me 60 days. I agreed again.
3 days before my second end date I was extended for another 90 days. I
was told this would be the ‘final’ extension so I started my job search. I
had a job to go to and they extended me again so I lost that opportunity.
Now I have a potential job opportunity in which the new employer has
agreed to wait. My official end date is tomorrow but I was informed verbally
that they needed me until 5/31 which is date the potential new employer is
willing to wait. Today I get a draft of the new extension and it states June
30 which will be a deal breaker for the potential new employer. I have been
with the company 14 years so my severance is 6 digits. I also hold a
director position and finding a new job will be more difficult. If I don’t agree
to the extension its considered a voluntary quit. If I do Agree and don’t stay
the full period again I get nothing. Is this legal? What legal rights do I
have?

Asked on February 25, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, it is legal. Companies are not required to provide severance; if they choose to do so, they can put any conditions they like on it, including how long you might have to stay to get it, and they can keep adding to or changing those conditions at will--since again, they have no obligation to provide severance at all. The only exception would be if you had some pre-existing written employment, etc. agreement (one that predated when they told you that did not need your services any longer) which guaranteed you severance in a situation like this one; if so, that other contract may be enforceable and give you severance according to its terms. If you have such a contract, bring it to an employment law attorney to review it with you.


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