Severance Agreement Attorney Cambridge MA
When you need employment law attorneys to assist with the review and negotiation of a severance agreement in Massachusetts, Bennett & Belfort, P.C. is the ideal law firm. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Bennett & Belfort’s lawyers are a trusted resource for employees who have been terminated and presented with a severance agreement, or for employers who plan to present a severance agreement to an employee.
If your employment has ended and you have been presented with a severance agreement, Bennett & Belfort, P.C. has a team of attorneys located in Cambridge, Massachusetts that can discuss your employment, termination, and review your severance agreement
In reviewing severance agreements, the attorneys at Bennett & Belfort, P.C. counsel individuals on the contents of the contract, and assess whether the individual has potential legal claims for age discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, race/color discrimination, national origin discrimination, gender discrimination, religious discrimination, discrimination based on sexual orientation, sexual harassment, retaliation, claims in contract, and/or wage claims for violation of the Massachusetts Wage Act.
The review and negotiation of a severance agreement is one of the core practice areas of our firm. Employees across Massachusetts have retained Bennett & Belfort, P.C. to review their severance package—which often includes a discussion of the employee’s employment contract—at which point the individual can decide whether to accept the offer of pay from the employer, negotiate better terms, or pursue litigation. If Bennett & Belfort, P.C. is retained to negotiate your severance agreement, it may—if you so choose—contact your former employer on your behalf to discuss the offer, discuss potential laws that have been violated, and the pros and cons of what litigation would entail.
Checklist to consider if employee has been presented with a severance agreement in Massachusetts
If you are an employee near Cambridge MA who has been presented with a severance contract by your Massachusetts employer, here are some items to consider when reading the proposed agreement:
- Parties’ names (does definition of employer include only the entity itself or is there are broad definition of employer that includes several other entities and/or its employees);
- Identify nature of dispute, claim brought/alleged (include name of case and court/agency);
- Nature of severance payment and other payment considerations (lump sum or continuation of payments; bonuses; commissions; stock; incentive compensation; vacation pay / PTO; expense reimbursements; timing of severance payment(s));
- Payment of attorneys’ fees (explicitly state whether employer will be covering attorneys’ fees or the employee is required to cover their own attorneys’ fees);
- Continuation of health benefits (COBRA; health insurance; life insurance; disability insurance; cost of coverage; retirement plans; stock options; others);
- Tax implications (form of reporting such W-2 and/or W-9; potential inclusion of a tax attorney to review issues; 409A deferred compensation issues and considerations; withholdings; indemnification for tax liability; separate checks/payments for wages, emotional distress damages, attorneys’ fees);
- No admission of liability by any of the parties (intended as a compromise of disputes and not intended to admit liability);
- Final compensation (final payment of wages and accrued but unused vacation time);
- Continuation of services (employee or consultant; compensation; separate agreement);
- Release (some language may include mutual or release only by employee; general or specific release; consideration for ADEA release; release may account for such claims as wrongful discharge, discrimination (age discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, race/color discrimination, national origin discrimination, gender discrimination, religious discrimination, discrimination based on sexual orientation, sexual harassment, retaliation), claims in contract, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, misrepresentation, fraud, wrongful discharge, wage claims for violation of the Massachusetts Wage Act, Massachusetts Pay Equity law, Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act, Massachusetts right of privacy laws, Massachusetts Equal Rights Act, Massachusetts Civil Rights Act, Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act, Massachusetts Labor and Industries Act, Massachusetts Small Necessities Leave Act, Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law, Massachusetts Family and Medical Leave law, statutory and common law claims, etc.; exceptions to enforce agreement such as worker’s compensation, vested retirement benefits, etc.);
- Covenant not to sue (litigation; administrative claims; cooperation with MCAD/EEOC matters);
- Termination of litigation (stipulation of dismissal with prejudice; entry of stipulated judgment; withdrawal of administrative claims such as MCAD/EEOC matter);
- Confidentiality of contract (no publication of settlement; liquidated damages for breach; scope and exceptions; confidentiality agreement for third parties);
- Statement to third parties (agreement as to how departure/termination is communicated, internally and externally);
- Non-disparagement and references (unilateral or mutual non-disparagement; neutral reference, written reference, and identify who will issue reference; letter of reference; other contacts; personnel records);
- Restrictive covenants (if severance agreement refers to or ratifies non-compete, non-solicitation or non-disclosure agreements – compare new language to language of prior contract);
- Cooperation with employer (should an investigation or litigation ensue; reasonable cooperation; payment for time and cost of travel);
- Outplacement services (period of time, provider of services, and coverage of costs);
- Indemnification for employee’s liability (coverage; exceptions);
- Unemployment insurance (will the Massachusetts employer oppose the employee’s attempt to seek unemployment? This should be explicitly stated in the contract);
- Property (removal of employee’s personal belongings; return of employer’s property such as laptop, iPad, keys, etc.; items that employee can keep);
- Transitional arrangements (access to premises; access to computer and/or voicemail; forwarding of voicemails and emails);
- Medicare (assess whether it applies to severance agreement);
- No re-hire (to what entities does it apply; timeframe);
- Dispute resolution (negotiation, mediation, or arbitration; if mediation or arbitration, where and by whom?);
- ADEA claims (waiver is part of agreement; refers to ADEA claims; no prospective waiver; consideration; employee advised in writing to confer with an attorney; 21-day review period and 7-day revocation period; time for consideration and effective date of severance agreement);
- Boilerplate provisions (binding agreement; entire agreement; modifications to contract must be in writing; authority to execute severance agreement; voluntary execution and opportunity to review with counsel; no assignment; binding on successors; severability; jurisdiction; Massachusetts governing law or elsewhere; captions; counterparts provided with original via mail or copies via electronic mail; notices; notarization).
If an employee presented with a severance agreement would like to pursue litigation in Massachusetts, Bennett & Belfort, P.C. will assess all laws on the employee’s behalf and proceed accordingly
If the employee believes that the severance agreement offer from its former employer is insufficient and/or the severance agreement negotiations have not resulted in a suitable severance offer, litigation may ensue. Bennett & Belfort attorneys have litigated cases across Massachusetts. The first step is often a filing with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). The MCAD has jurisdiction to hear cases of discrimination in Massachusetts, including age discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, race/color discrimination, national origin discrimination, gender discrimination, religious discrimination, discrimination based on sexual orientation, sexual harassment, and retaliation.
Turn to experienced severance agreement attorneys in Cambridge, Massachusetts to draft your severance agreement
At Bennett & Belfort, our attorneys have been negotiating and drafting contracts and severance agreements on behalf of employers for years. Our attorneys are skilled in many practice areas and, therefore, the severance packages drafted on behalf of employers account for Massachusetts wage laws, discrimination claims, sexual harassment claims, contract matters, employee leave, and all legal claims. The severance agreement ensures that the employee receives all pay when due and owing, and is intended to prevent litigation.
Contact a Bennett & Belfort severance agreement attorney in Cambridge, Massachusetts
If an employer contacts you regarding a severance agreement in Massachusetts or you are an employer who would like a severance agreement or contract drafted, feel free to contact Bennett & Belfort, P.C. online or by telephone at (617) 577-8800. To speak with an experienced severance agreement attorney, Cambridge, MA, employees and employers can contact Bennett & Belfort, P.C.