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Five Laws That Protect You During Layoffs

Five Laws That Protect You During Layoffs

Dona DeZube | Monster Finance Careers Expert

December 03, 2009

Severance Releases

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When severance is offered, you may have to sign a waiver releasing the company from future claims. When helping clients decide whether they should sign, Julia Murphy, an attorney with Outten and Golden LLP, a Stamford, Connecticut, firm that represents only employees, discusses the circumstances surrounding the layoff.

“Why were you picked? Did they eliminate your whole department? Do you feel like you’re being singled out because you just had a baby or took a disability leave?” she says. If you want to fight the decision or ask for a better severance package, “that’s when you need some legal leverage, and that comes from the facts surrounding the termination,” she says.

Layoff Lawsuits

Even if you were illegally laid off, it may be tough to pursue your case in court. Johnson warns: If your salary was low, finding an attorney willing to take your case may be difficult.

A lawsuit found in your favor could result in back pay, damages and attorneys’ fees. However, those come with a cost. “You have to have the stomach for litigation,” Johnson says. “It will take two to four years, unless you have slam-dunk evidence.”

During the litigation process, be prepared to talk about topics like your work history and whether you’ve ever been convicted of a crime. If you claim emotional distress, your medical records will be brought up. Claim lost income, and your employer’s attorney will get to see your tax return and your spouse’s return, Johnson adds.

In the end, an attorney can tell you whether your layoff appears to be legal or illegal, but only you can determine whether the cost of going after your former employer is worth the effort it will take.

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