How do I negotiate severance pay

UPDATED: Nov 26, 2018

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How do I negotiate severance pay

Hi, I was presented a severance offer
yesterday after returning from 12 weeks
of FMLA. My employer offered 20k 4
weeks vacation 27k. I’ve been a
salaried employee for nearly 14 years. I
am considering negotiating for 2 weeks
for every year I’ve been there 44k
but I’m concerned they might recind the
original offer. Any advice?

Asked on November 26, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

First, be careful about "negotiating": if you provide a counteroffer, that could be taken legally as rejecting this offer, meaning they could withdraw it and leave you with nothing. Bear in mind that there is no right to severance: employers do not need to provide it. So if you reject this offer, you cannot necessarily be sure of getting anything.
The above is the general rule: you don't have leverage, unless you have a written employment contract guarantying you severance, in which case you are entitled to whatever the contract says.
However, an employer may not retaliate against an employee for using FMLA, or discriminate against them for having a disability. IF the employer is doing one of these things--the severance offer is linked, you believe, to your medical condition (if that's why you used FMLA) or your use of FMLA leave, then you may have a significant potential legal claim. (If the offer has nothing to do with that and the timing is just coincidental, you would not.) In that event, since you could contact the EEOC (disability discrimination) or department of labor (FMLA retaliation) to file a claim, you would have more leverage, would have a back-up if they do withdraw the offer, and could therefore be more agressive.

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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