Do I need an attorney for a Separation Agreement from my employer after termination?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Do I need an attorney for a Separation Agreement from my employer after termination?

I was terminated after giving a notice to leave my job, and was given a Separation Agreement including a severance pay provision, and the company’s attorney recommends that I get legal representation.

Asked on August 7, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You are not required to have one. Having an attorney review the agreement is always a good idea in the sense that a lawyer will certainly understand it, the obligations on you, the potential pitfalls, etc. far better than you. But whether to hire an attorney is a cost-benefit decision. Examples:
1) You are offered $2,000 of severance to promise not to sue, but you have no intention of suing anyway--you don't need to pay a lawyer to tell you to take the money, since you're not really giving up anything.
2) You believe you may have been discriminated against due to your race, religion, sex, disability, national origin, color, or age over 40, but are offered only $2,000 to not sue. A lawsuit might be worth a lot more than $2,000, so you should review the situation with an attorney.
3) The agreement includes some complicated language that could bar you from working for certain companies or in certain capacities, or subject you to penalties if you say the wrong thing about your employer--you will want an attorney to make sure you understand what you would be agreeing to, so you can decide if it is worth it.
Lawyers cost money--so decide whether a several hundred (at least) dollar expense is worth it.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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