Can You Still Sue For Wrongful Termination If You Accepted A Severance Package In Florida?
A severance package is a bundle of pay and benefits that is offered to an employee who has been laid off or otherwise terminated from a company. You may be wondering: Can you sue for wrongful termination if you agreed to take a severance package? The answer is generally “no”—though the terms of the agreement matter. Within this article, you will find an overview of the key things to know about severance agreements and wrongful termination claims in Florida.
Background: Severance Pay Not Required in Florida, Negotiated Agreement
As background, it is important to understand that Florida law does not require employers to offer severance pay. Instead, severance packages are voluntary. An employer does not need to offer one, nor does a laid off or terminated employee need to accept one. These agreements can be negotiated by the parties.
Why Most Severance Packages Make it Difficult to Sue for Wrongful Termination
If an employer offers you a severance package, they will likely present you with a contract called a “severance agreement.” This document will outline the terms of the agreement, including the amount of severance pay you will receive and any other benefits (like continued health insurance coverage).
The severance agreement will also likely contain a “release” of claims—which is a key term to understand. Indeed, most severance agreements contain a “release” of claims provision. The release of claims provision is a contractual clause in which the employee agrees not to bring any legal claims against the employer in exchange for the severance pay and benefits.
In other words, when an employee signs such an agreement, they are essentially agreeing to waive their right to sue for wrongful termination (or any other legal claim). Therefore, if you have been offered a severance package that includes a release of claims provision, you will likely not be able to sue for wrongful termination—even if you have an otherwise valid claim
Note: If your severance package does not contain a release of claims provision, then it will generally not affect your right to sue for wrongful termination. A severance package does not, by itself, indemnify an employer against a claim. It only does so if the employee “agrees” to forgo that right.
Employees Must Carefully Consider Rights and Options Before Accepting Severance
As a general rule, it is a best practice to have a severance agreement reviewed by an employment law attorney. You need to know exactly what you are getting—and giving up—by accepting the severance package. Most employers in Florida who offer severance do so, in large part, to get employees to waive their right to file a lawsuit. Only sign a severance agreement that contains a release of claims if you are comfortable giving up that right.
Get Help From a Wrongful Termination Lawyer in Florida
Before you sign a severance agreement, it is imperative that you understand the terms and implications. If you are considering bringing a wrongful termination claim against an employer, you should consult with a Florida employment attorney prior to accepting a severance package.