Severance agreements and special requirements for older employees

On Behalf of | Nov 2, 2021 | employment law

As a departing employee over 40 years of age, you should review your severance agreement carefully.

In fact, before you sign, you must seek legal guidance. This recommendation must appear in the agreement along with other special requirements.

Compensating the departing employee

If your former employer provides you with a severance agreement, the goal is to create a smooth exit for you while protecting the interests of the company you are leaving. The employer may offer to compensate you for agreeing to abide by certain post-employment limitations. For example, you may agree not to go to work for a competitor for a certain period of time.

Adhering to government requirements

As a departing employee 40 years of age or older, the severance agreement must contain language the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) approves. The language cannot be “overly broad and misleading.” Moreover, the agreement cannot infringe on your right to file a charge of discrimination against your former employer or to cooperate with such an investigation.

Enforcing the timing provisions

As an older departing employee, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Older Workers Benefit Protection Plan (OWBP) require that you have 21 days in which to consider your severance agreement. Even after signing, you must have another seven days during which you can revoke the agreement. In addition, the laws stipulate that the agreement contains plain, simple language free of legal jargon.

Consulting an attorney

To be enforceable, the agreement must contain a reference to the ADEA. It must also advise the recipient to seek legal guidance before signing. An attorney can examine the document thoroughly and either approve it or suggest edits so that it will stand up in court, if necessary.

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