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Is your severance agreement what it seems?

On Behalf of | Oct 2, 2016 | Employee Rights |

Losing a job happens to many people during the course of life. It can still be at least initially earth-shaking and disheartening to lose a job. For some, the promise of severance pay gets them through the rough patch.

The money serves as a financial buffer until someone can find a new job. What if your severance pay agreement, however, isn’t just a buffer? Could it be your former employer paying you off in order to stay quiet about an employment law matter?


Our employment rights attorneys atCostello, Mains & Silverman, LLC, have seen situations in which severance packages were used to basically distract terminated employees from speaking out about possible employment law violations. For example, maybe sexual harassment or discrimination occurred in the office. Would a severance agreement make it less likely that an ex-worker would file a complaint?

Claims of discrimination, harassment, unsafe working conditions, etc., can be damaging to a business. Litigating such claims can cost a company money. It can cost them their reputation. Therefore, if a company has any worries about an employee they’ve fired revealing any supposed secrets, a tempting severance agreement can become a strategy to save face and money.

Of course, there are legitimate, reasonable severance agreements out there. And the arrangements can make a significant difference in the recipient’s life. New Jersey law generally doesn’t require a severance agreement for workers who lose their job, so receiving one can truly be a welcomed benefit. 

If you have any doubt about a severance agreement you’ve been offered, especially if you feel you were mistreated while employed, get advice from an employment law attorney. The matter of severance can be complicated, and you might have rights beyond that financial support if employment laws were broken.