If my position is being eliminated and I turn down a position that I verbally accepted because it is a significant pay drop, can my employer withhold my severance?

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If my position is being eliminated and I turn down a position that I verbally accepted because it is a significant pay drop, can my employer withhold my severance?

Asked on April 16, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If I understand your question, you held position A and it is being eliminated; you were offered severance from A; you were then offered  position B and accepted it orally; you want to know what happens if you turn down position B. If that is the case, then if you turn down position B, which you accepted, your employer would be allowed to withhold the severance you would have received from position A. That is because 1) in accepting position B, you rejected the offer of severance from position A--and once an offer is rejected, a person or business does not need to make it again or keep it open; and 2) if you accepted B, then if you now "turn it down," you are effectively resigning (voluntarily separating) from position B, not being laid off  from A--therefore, the situation has changed, and you are no longer in the situation under  which you were offered severance. Also, if the employer considers that you voluntarily quit B, it would potentially be able to deny you unemployment--employees who voluntarily leave a positioin are ineligible for unemployment compensation.


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