Employment & Labour

Reasons to ask a lawyer to review your severance package

By Doug MacLeod

We have reviewed hundreds of severance packages on behalf of employees. Some of these packages are fair and some are really unfair. We can tell you whether we think your package is fair. And in many cases, we can help you negotiate a better severance package.

To determine whether your severance package is fair we spend an hour or so with you to discuss the circumstances surrounding your termination to then provide you with an informed legal assessment of your case.

Here are five reasons why you may be entitled to an enhanced severance package:

1. You may be owed more monies up to the date of termination. For example, if you sometimes work more than 44 hours a week then you may be entitled to overtime pay. Similarly, if you receive a bonus each year then you may be owed a pro-rated share of your bonus up to your termination date.

2. The termination clause in your employment contract may not be enforceable. You may have signed an employment contract which states you are only entitled to the minimum notice of termination required under the Employment Standards Act. If this clause is not enforceable then you could be entitled to considerably more termination pay. There are several ways to legally attack a termination clause.

3. Even if the termination clause in your employment agreement is enforceable, you may be entitled to additional damages if you were discriminated against while employed. For example, if you were discriminated against because of a disability, or because of your gender or race.

4. Even if the termination clause in your employment agreement is enforceable, you may be entitled to additional damages if you were harassed while employed. This can include bullying by your supervisor.

5. Normally an employer has the right to terminate an employee by providing notice of termination or termination pay instead of this notice. There are, however, exceptions to this general rule and in these cases you may have the right to be reinstated or the employer may be prepared to provide you with extra pay if you agree to forego the right to seek reinstatement. If you have been terminated shortly after returning to work following a pregnancy leave you can file a statutory claim and seek reinstatement.

Many people never hire a lawyer. After being terminated, however, some people consult with an employment lawyer for peace of mind because they want to know if the severance package is fair. Getting an answer from an experienced employment lawyer helps them move on with their lives.

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