I’m being terminated and only paid 3 months of severance. How can I negotiate my severance package?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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I’m being terminated and only paid 3 months of severance. How can I negotiate my severance package?

I work at a technology company in New York and have been employed for 2 years.
I’m being asked to sign termination paperwork that includes a lump sum severance
payment, worth around 14 weeks of pay. I don’t think this is sufficient given
that I’ll need to leave the US afterwards.

Should I get a lawyer to review the severance package? If I sued the company
would I have a chance?

Asked on July 18, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Do you have a written employment conrtract for a definite or defined period of time (e.g. a one year, three year, etc.) contract which is still in effect (unexpired) which guaranteed you severance? If you did, you are entitled to whatever severance the contract gives you--no more and no less.
But without a contract, there is NO right to severance: U.S. law does not guaranty it. It is purely voluntary on the part of your employer; it being voluntary on their part, they can offer you however much they like (assuming they choose to offer you anything--they don't have to give you severance at all). Therefore, you have no grounds to sue them in the absence of a contract for more severance.
Bear in mind your severance is actually quite generous by U.S. standards: many employees, even senior ones or professionals, get nothing; and when companies do grant severance, usuallys it's on 1 or 2 weeks per year of service.

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