Characterization of separation

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Characterization of separation

After 21 years with the same company the firm has changed the conditions of employment and any employee who does not comply with the new requirements will be terminated immediately. Specifically, the company will require employees to sign a standing authorization for the company to receive ‘alerts’ from various credit, legal, and social media reporting agencies on a continuing basis. If I do not agree to this and am terminated, does the company owe me some sort of severance and or unemployment like I was laid off or am I on my own like I just quit or was fired for cause?

Thanks

Asked on April 16, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Hawaii

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

If you do not agree to these terms and are terminated, the company could treat it as resignation, since it is a refusal to work for them under the conditions which they may legally establish--and refusing to work is resignation or quitting. If they elect to treat it this way, you would not be eligible for unemployment. They are not required to treat it this way, and could treat you as terminated (and hence eligible for unemployment), but do have the option of considering a refusal to sign as resignation.
There is no legal entitlement to severance unless you have an in-effect written employment agreement, or are offered by the company and sign a separation agreement, giving you severance. Without a written agreement of one kind or another guarantying you severance, they don't need to offer you any. And they do not need to offer you the chance to sign an agreement for severance, either--it is up to them whether to do so or not.


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