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New York City Severance Negotiation Lawyers

Has Your Employer Asked You to Sign a Severance Agreement? Don’t Sign Until You Speak With Us!

Employment is generally considered “at-will” in New York City. This means that if you choose to quit, or your employer decides to fire you, neither of you owe the other anything further. But some employers ask–and often demand–a departing employee signs a severance agreement.

Severance agreements are usually constructed to benefit the employer in some way. Perhaps they want you to waive your right to sue them for wrongful termination. Or the employer seeks to enforce certain non-compete or non-disclosure obligations on you. Whatever the reason, you have the right to negotiate the terms of any proposed severance agreement.

Our experienced New York City severance negotiation lawyers can help. Carey & Associates, P.C., is a team of experienced New York employment lawyers who understand how this process works. We know an employer is not trying to do you any favors when it comes to a severance agreement. And we can help ensure you do not end up signing your legal rights away under pressure or duress.

What Does a New York City Severance Agreement Cover?

Severance negotiations can take many different forms. In general, an employer will offer some form of severance pay or benefits in exchange for the departing employee’s agreement to take—or not take–certain actions after they leave. A properly executed severance agreement is therefore a legally binding contract that either side can seek to enforce in court or through other means specified in the contract. Click here to learn more about severance agreements.

Some of the more common terms of New York City severance agreements include:

  • Severance Pay: Unlike an employee’s salary, severance pay is usually given as a lump-sum upon the end of the employment relationship. Severance pay is often, but not always, based on certain criteria such as an employee’s length of service or salary.
  • Continuing Benefits: An employer may agree to continue a departing employee’s health insurance or similar benefits for a specified period of time after the employee leaves. Some employers will even continue making contributions to a departing employee’s retirement account.
  • Accrued Benefits: When employers offer paid vacation or paid time off as part of their standard employee benefit packages, a severance agreement can include terms for paying out any accrued but unused time to the employee when they leave.
  • Outplacement: Some employers will offer assistance to an employee in finding a new job.
  • Legal Liability: Just about every employer who negotiates a severance agreement will demand a release from potential liability–i.e., the departing employee’s binding promise not to sue the employer. This often means waiving certain rights guaranteed by federal, New York State, and New York City laws.
  • Non-Compete: Employers will often try to get employees to sign non-competition or “non-compete” provisions as part of a severance negotiation. Non-compete clauses restrain an employee from seeking a similar job from one of the employer’s competitors for a certain period of time.
  • Dispute Resolution: Many employers want to avoid going to court if a dispute arises over the enforcement of a severance agreement. They may insist on language requiring the parties to submit to binding arbitration instead. Employees should think carefully before agreeing to such language, however, as arbitration often restricts many of the rights a plaintiff enjoys in civil litigation.

Recent Changes to New York Law Limit Use of Non-Disclosure Agreements

Another common feature of New York City severance negotiations are non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). Many employees are required to sign NDAs as an initial condition of employment. In broad terms, an NDA forbids an employee from discussing or disclosing sensitive information about the business–such as customer lists or trade secrets–without authorization from management. But NDAs have also been used to buy an employee’s silence regarding potentially illegal practices such as employment discrimination.

In recent years, New York State has moved to curb the use of NDAs for such purposes. Under current law, an employer may not use a severance agreement or standalone NDA to stop a current or former employee from disclosing facts related to employment discrimination. Nor can an employer enforce a severance agreement where the employee is required to pay damages or forfeit their rights under the agreement for making such disclosures.

Contact Carey & Associates Today

You need to approach severance negotiations the same as any other arms-length business transaction. Even if you are departing your employer on amicable terms, you should still work with an experienced, independent New York City severance negotiations lawyer who can represent your interests in negotiating and enforcing a final agreement. Call Carey & Associates, P.C., at (914) 705-5427 today to schedule a free initial consultation. We represent workers throughout the five boroughs of New York City and beyond.

Client Testimonials

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Mark and his team at Carey & Associates are incredibly knowledgeable about Employment Law and have walked me through every step of the way. Their approach and guidance has been extremely effective in dealing with my case. They instill a sense of confidence by laying out the facts, caselaw, and risk assessment to help make well informed decisions. I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for an Employment Attorney.


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