General Advice and Severance Review

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Because employment law can be confusing we also offer services other than suing your employer

We offer a variety of services that do not involve suing your employer. These services can include review of Offer Letters, Employment Contracts, Severance Agreements, attending Administrative Hearings (for example, Unemployment Hearings), or just giving you Advice and Counsel on an employment situation that you are facing at work.

Non-litigation services are done on an hourly cost basis but it is still free to discuss what work you want from us, what exactly you can expect from us, an estimate of the time involved in your specific situation, and what the cost would be for our services. We will not do any work until a legal services agreement is signed by both of us and you know exactly what work (and its cost) we will be doing on your behalf.

WE CAN HELP YOU REVIEW YOUR OFFER LETTER OR EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT

If your employer gives you an offer letter or employment contract, we can help you understand all of its terms, your rights, and (perhaps most importantly) what rights you are not being offered in the agreement.

For example, even when an employee is given a contract or offer letter for employment, it still typically contains “At-Will” language. If you are employed “at-will”, this means that your employer can terminate you (with or without a “good” reason), and you have the right to end the employment as well “at-will”. There are several exceptions to this general legal right (for example, your employer can not terminate you if they are motivated by discriminatory reasons), and you may benefit enormously by an attorney explaining this right, as well as others presented in the agreement, to you.

If you have been presented with an employment contract or offer letter, Contact HENK LEONARD to schedule an appointment to have the agreement reviewed and discussed with you.

We can help you review your severance (release) agreement

A severance agreement is a document that is given to you by your employer at the end of your employment (it might also be a General Release of Claims, a Waiver of Claims, or a Release). This document is a binding contract where your employer typically agrees to pay you money and you agree to never sue your employer for anything that involved your employment.

Why do I need an attorney to help me decide to sign it or not?

The typical reason that your employer will offer you a severance (because it does not have to do that under California law) is because the agreement usually requires you to give up legal rights that you have. The rights you are giving up might not be important to you, and so receiving severance money and being bound by the agreement may be in your best interest. But, if the rights ARE important to you, and you sign the contract, you may regret your decision.

Buyer’s remorse is too often realized when someone signs a severance. If you have been asked to sign a severance agreement, you should make sure you understand all of your rights – and understand what rights you will be waiving – before you sign.

We can help you make an informed decision.

  • We can make sure you are not waiving your right to be properly compensated for wrongful termination, discrimination or sexual harassment by your employer. If you sign an agreement you might forever be prevented from filing and pursuing these claims against your employer. If you discover that you have an employment claim, you will likely have more leverage to get better terms and more money in your agreement (or learn that you should not sign one at all).
  • We can make sure you are getting the most money possible from the severance agreement. In some circumstances, it may be possible for us to negotiate better terms and get more money.
  • Severance agreements are often filled with “legalese” because they are usually drafted by lawyers. We can explain the terms to you in “English.”
  • Many agreements have outdated, illegal or unenforceable terms and conditions, or be written for employees in states other than California. For example, the vast majority of agreements that limit your right to “compete” against them in the future with a different employer are invalid. Yet we continue to see “Non-Compete” language in severance agreements. Make sure you understand which provisions are valid and which provisions are invalid.
  • Some rights cannot be waived even if you sign the agreement, and we can explain them to you.

If you have been presented with a severance agreement, you owe it to yourself to Contact HENK LEONARD to schedule an appointment to have the agreement reviewed.

We can help you prepare for an administrative hearing or other non-litigation

Many employment situations result in administrative hearings. Some examples include Unemployment hearings, grievance procedures for union members, mediations, and/or EEO hearings.

Some individuals want someone to attend the hearing, while others just want advice on how to present their evidence. We are always willing to discuss ways in which we may be able to assist you.

If you want advice on hearing or for someone to attend it on your behalf, Contact HENK LEONARD to schedule an appointment.

We can help you understand a workplace problem and offer you advice and counsel

We have had many situations where an employee does not want to sue their employer, but has concerns over a workplace situation. The employee typically does not understand their rights (or lack of employment rights) and wants us to explain the situation.

For example, we have advised employees who had the following issues:

  • An employee was given a write-up that they feel is unjustified. Does she have any legal recourse?
  • An employee is told that they must participate in a workplace investigation into a harassment complaint they made. Do they have to participate?
  • An employee made a harassment complaint and now they are being moved to another department. Is this retaliation?
  • A disabled employee does not want to give their medical information to their employer, but the employer insists that they must review it. Is this a violation of privacy?

We were able to advise the above employees in a half hour counseling session. Most often knowledge of the law is what is needed in order for you to make good decisions at work.