Carney R. Shegerian, an employee rights attorney and founder of Shegerian & Associates, a Santa Monica-based litigation law firm representing employees, advises former employees of the costs and benefits of signing a severance agreement.

A severance agreement, also known as a separation agreement, specifies the terms of one’s termination and often times when signed waives the individual’s right to sue the former employer. “In today’s employer-dominated working market, employers are using the opportunity of mass lay-offs to pay-off employees to avoid discrimination and other wrongful termination lawsuits,” Shegerian says.

Shegerian states, “It is common practice now for employers to give employees the option to sign a severance agreement upon termination of their employment. Depending on the agreement, former employees are often given time to reflect and decide whether they wish to sign.” Shegerian adds, “This is a good time for the former employee to weigh his or her costs of signing the agreement. More often than one would expect, employees are signing away claims that they did not know they had which have economic values that far exceed the severance pay they receive.”

While the decision to sign the severance agreement is entirely up to employees, employees should contact an attorney in cases where an individual believes to have been wrongfully terminated or harassed or some other illegality is involved. Shegerian states, “Sometimes employers offer very little severance pay with hopes that the employee will nonetheless sign and waive his or her right to sue. In these cases, it is recommended that the individual seek counsel and not allow the former employer to exploit the individual any more.”

On a side note, Shegerian states, “While employers are not required by law to provide severance pay, they are required by law to provide unemployment compensation.” Shegerian adds, “Although illegal it is all too common and very sad to see how some employers avoid providing unemployment compensation for their employees.”

An experienced trial attorney, Shegerian has tried many jury trials to verdict in both state and federal court, always representing individuals that have suffered financial or emotional losses and have been wronged by employers, including major corporations. Shegerian has built a remarkable career on helping those who have been wronged in the workplace. He remains undefeated in federal jury trials and has won 14 seven figure verdicts representing employees.