The Law Office Of

Neal Jacobs

8118 Corporate Way, Suite 110, Mason Ohio 45040

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Getting The Severance You Deserve

severence agreement employment law wrongful termination cincinnati ohio lawyer warren county mason ohio A properly negotiated severance agreement allows an employee to "bridge" lost income while seeking work, and provides compensation for acts that might constitute the basis for a lawsuit.    

Neal has negotiated over 100 severance agreements with companies as diverse as Lowes, Applebees, Macy's, Staples, Ethicon, Olive Garden, McCullough-Hyde hospital, International Paper and LensCrafters. A "severance package" possesses may be offered to an employee when there is a change in management, or a company is “downsizing”.   

Severance may also be an alternative to litigation in response to an employee who has: (1) been wrongfully terminated; (2) is the the victim of employment discrimination or retaliation; or (3) has asserted a Federal or State statutory claim.  Having identified a claim, the employer may wish to avoid the cost and uncertainty of litigation.  In other words, a severance package may compensate the employee who has identified an employer's illegal actions. 

Neal has found that employers may offer, or enhance severance  if the potential claims are raised in a manner that highlights the employer's potential risk, or legal exposure.  As a former corporate counsel, Neal brings a unique perspective to these matters as he has negotiated severance agreements from both the employer and employee side. 

A severance agreement may include a lump sum payment, extension of medical benefits, preparation of an agreed upon  recommendation letter, outplacement assistance and the employer’s agreement not to oppose Unemployment Benefits. Ultimately severance provides an alternative to litigation, and assures certainty and controls costs.

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SEVERANCE NEGOTIATIONS

"It's Not Over Til The Fat Lady Sings"

An experienced employment attorney may be able to restart severance discussions that previously "stalled".

ERISA SeveranceFour years ago I spoke to a client about a severance offer from his employer. The client was 62, in good health and wanted to work until he was at least 65. He rejected the severance and immediately saw his responsibilities diminished.  The client remained despite demeaning job assignments, a third shift schedule and health issues made worse by stress created at work.

The client spoke with me again in July 2013--now 66, tired and emotionally drained. He was ready to quit having been told by his supervisor that the "severance package" previously offered was long since gone and that the company had no intention of “padding” his retirement.  The client wondered if there was any way that he could obtain severance benefits.

I contacted the company and explained that its efforts to make the client "so uncomfortable" that he would quit was unacceptable. Such an effort is sometimes known  as a "constructive discharge".  As  a constructively discharged employee, I further advised the company that the client would proceed with his claim for age discrimination and his ERISA claim.  The latter claim makes it illegal for a company to punish an employee for exercising his right to access benefits.

Based on our discussions I prepared a letter underscoring the client’s claims and seeking severance. Negotiations moved forward quickly and the employee was offered a new severance package that included an agreement that the company would not oppose unemployment benefits.

The moral of the story: It’s not over till it’s over—an experienced employment attorney can revive severance discussions that the employee believes are dead.
 

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ENHANCING A SEVERANCE AGREEMENT:

Timely Retaining Counsel

Retaining a lawyer to review a severance agreement is critical in order to assure that the the former employee is protected. Timely action by the former employee will allow counsel, where appropriate, to seek enhanced benefits.

The need for quick action was recently underscored when a client visited my office 19 days after he received a severance agreement. Because he was over 40, the employee was provided with a “21 day notice” advising him to review the agreement with an attorney. That language is required by federal law before the employee can waive his or her federal age discrimination claim.

The problem was that the deadline to accept or reject the severance was fast approaching. I contacted the employer’s lawyer and obtained a short extension; however, the employer was now less interested in “sweetening” the offer because of the employee’s seeming indifference.  While I was able to negotiate an improved severance I was convinced that had the client promptly retained my services that I would have been able to negotiate an even better deal.

The lesson is that a delay in contacting counsel may compromise negotiations. If you think that your severance is not sufficient and needs to be enhanced contact an experience employment attorney.
 

 

Employment Lawyer

Litigating wrongful termination, employment discrimination, harassment, Family Medical Leave Act, and retaliation claims.

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Business & Litigation

Advising and supporting commercial clients to achieve their business goals. Neal aggressively litigates those disputes.

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Family Law Attorney

Representing parties in all aspects of family law, including divorce and dissolution, support, shared parenting, and custody proceedings.

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Real Estate Law

Representing landlords and tenants in negotiating, drafting and preparing documents for the sale or lease of residential and commercial real estate.

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