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Severance agreements of public officials are public knowledge

Those in Colorado and elsewhere who hold public positions find that little about their jobs is private. This includes their severance agreements when they leave their jobs. This, of course, opens them up to great public scrutiny. At the end of the day, however, what they are ultimately awarded comes down to a number of factors and a great deal of negotiations -- not really public opinion.

The topic of public official severance agreements has been in the news quite a bit as of late after a police chief in another state stepped down following the tragic shooting of a woman who called law enforcement for help. According to reports, Police Chief Harteau had a salary of approximately $170,000 a year. By the terms set forth in her employment contract, she is entitled to three months' pay and compensation for any accrued sick leave and vacation time.

While it is not necessarily clear as to why negotiations are taking so long, it may have to do with an extra three months' pay that she may be entitled to for not being given three months' notice before being asked to give up her post. It is also unclear if Ms. Harteau is seeking any further compensation for her early removal. Her contract was not set to end until early 2019.

Figuring out severance agreements can be a tricky business. While the details of severance packages are often spelled out in employment contracts, there may be a little wiggle room, depending on the circumstances under which one leaves his or her position. Whether one is leaving a public or private job in Colorado or elsewhere, an experienced employment law attorney can assist with the severance package negotiation. With skilled legal counsel at one's side, it is possible to come to terms with which all parties are satisfied.

Source: startribune.com, "Details of former Minneapolis Chief Harteau's severance not final yet", Adam Belz, Aug. 2, 2017

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