In this episode of the Employee Survival Guide, Mark prepares your layoff first aid kit and instructs you about what should go into it. He will discuss (10) ten steps you need to run through when you receive your layoff notice and severance agreement. Mark offers quick advice from years of handling severance negotiations for thousands of clients. There is a method and you need understand it to maximize your financial severance gain.
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Hey, it's Mark here and welcome to the next edition of the Employee Survival Guide, where I tell you as always, what your employer does definitely not want you to know about a lot more. Hey, it's mark here, and welcome back again. This episode, we're going to talk about the layoff first aid kit. What do you need to put in it? And what do you need to do? I thought of this, this episode, because of the number of layoffs it's ever increasing yesterday was indeed laid off 15% of its workforce. Accenture is laying off I believe, 20,000 people. And it's just escalating, I will say that we're very, very busy. I am taking a number of calls daily, from people being laid off. I will note that it's from the tech sector, yes. But also hedge funds and financial industry, starting to see a lot of financial industry companies, laying people off. Not good folks. Unless you're an employment lawyer. So But in all seriousness, what should be in your layoff first aid kit. First, get a copy of the severance agreement from your employer, and then read it. The severance agreement is going to contain in essence, a divorce between you and your employer, whereby you're going to release claims in exchange for some amount of money, and other be other conditions such as your reopening on your non compete non solicitation and your confidentiality, you will most likely be denied a bonus if you because some firms have this policy that if you're not at work at a certain period of time, you don't get your bonus. But the the provisions are vary depending upon what company you have. But read the provisions as in essence, what it all boils down to it takes me about 10 minutes or less to explain it to you if you called me on the phone, but read it. And it says that you release all these claims. And it's obviously legalese. But nonetheless, it's black and white, you can read through it. And it says it's the full and final agreement and no agreement occurred. Any oral language before or the agreement was signed is not applicable. And then you have a full deal if you accept it. And you have this if you're over age 40. And you have a seven day right of revocation period, to revoke it if you want to. The second aspect of the first aid kit is what is your goal? What are you going to try to do with respect to your severance negotiation. Either A, you hire an attorney like myself to explain it to you and explain the terms but not necessarily increase the cost. But just explain the term Ensign. I'm doing a lot of deals now where I'm basically carving out like non competes and non solicitation elements, not necessarily increasing the cost. So if you want to increase the cost, that's a different avenue. And obviously, it gets more expensive, because you have to have an attorney to spend time to go through the facts and discovered if you have a case or not, I would seriously begin to think about writing up your narrative of if you're choosing the second option here of trying to build legal leverage, and I'll get to that in a second. The third thing to do in your first aid kit is check your HR portal to see if you still have access and see if the company has a severance plan. And I talked about this often in my episodes where you'd have to figure out what the floor level benefit you're going to get. It's companies will pay either severance under a policy or the pay under a severance plan. It's a plan it's really filed with the Department of Labor in Washington DC. They file what's called a 5500 document. I think it's item number four I if I'm not mistaken, they put down and what it basically is is a planet says for the number of weeks you worked, you can get up to six months and try to cap it based on years of service. So so that's really the floor level benefit. And if you seek legal leverage to increase dollars, what you're trying to do is increase your dollars above and on top of what you get for severance benefits under the plan. Alright, number four, because I have 10 items here. Sorry, four is ask other employees what they receive and severance people talk. It's really amazing. And so if you can get people to say what they got, it gives you an idea of a sense of like, it's like equal pay laws. But we don't have that for severance. It's all still confidential, but people do talk. So ask them. I should make a footnote here. When people do tell you what they taught. They got severance after they signed the deal. They are in fact illegally breaching their confidentiality of their of their severance agreement, but For some reason, they still want to share what they got. I heard it today on the telephone, somebody said they had talked to somebody who had gotten a year and, and obviously, that sparks someone's imagination that maybe I can get a year as well. But that's the idea of getting information, getting detail about what other people got. Number five, there's such a thing called a goodwill negotiation. I'm going to explain it in second. And then I'm going to basically, you know, downplay goodwill negotiating, essentially, is this, where you don't want to pursue legal claims, because you're concerned a cost or fear or all the above, and you just want to see if and get money because of your, you know, your good performance, you would come up with five things of notable recognizable efforts on your part that made the company money that you would put into a letter, that you would say, Listen, I'd like to increase my severance pay offer from X dollars to some other thing. And here's why. Because I'm such a good employee, I will tell you that nine times, or 10 times out of 10, the employer is going to say to you, sorry, but respectfully, the agreement is what it is take it or leave it. So that's the, you know, Goodwill negotiations don't really work. People think about doing it all the time, just because and thinking and save money. But reality, give it a shot, you can send an email, but then generally, they don't work. So you got to push your employer around by coming up with some legal claims. Number six, speaking of legal claims, what is your legal leverage position in negotiation of settlement? Do you have one, I get to know you have one? Can I just pause and just beat into your brain one concept? Can you begin to discover and read about what employment laws are about because if you don't, you're naive, you're naive, because you're not really helping yourself, to understand what you have in your possession, what's in your cards, and you maybe just go to talk to an attorney, get a free concert, because that's, you know, free, whatever. But a lot of people don't understand what they actually have. And once they're explained what they actually have, then they're astounded actually, to what can happen when you have actually no not have knowledge about something, and you can do something, but you can actually get more money. So can everybody wake up and begin to understand the rules of engagement about their employment, I, it's a pet peeve of mine, people just refuse to learn about this stuff. It's all free, it's available, you cannot go you can spend on my website, you can read all you want about everything. That's what I tried to put out the freemium information, so that you get educated about what it is so that when you're sitting in the situation, when you ask for more money, you can quickly adapt. Or maybe you can actually curate your own case, and make more money out of a severance transaction. Because you have knowledge, knowledge is power. So back to legal leverage, I'm going to ask you to write a narrative telling me your story. Maybe it's a story of whistleblowing, because you found corrupt practices at your company, or you are discriminated against, it doesn't really matter, just come up with some legal leverage that describes that you have a claim. And then you use that claim to develop a negotiation position with your employer. And, you know, sorry, but you have to hire an employment lawyer to kind of help you along the way. And that employment lawyer, you know, think about what your goal is here, you're not hiring the employment lawyer to do file a lawsuit. That's the last thing you ever want to do. Your you file a lawsuit in federal court is going to get picked up in Google the day after guaranteed happens all time, state courts a little slower. But your goal here is really about just getting involved into a negotiated settlement with your employer prior to lawsuit being filed. But you're bringing in the onslaught the appearance of litigation to your employer, because they're not going to know that if they're not gonna understand what your goal is. You don't have to tell them, you can bluff it. But you have to make it look like and it has to sound and talk like and walk like a legal claim. And it has to be demonstrated by the facts of your case. years ago, somebody said to the phrase to me that you're writing for dollars, I'm not kidding. It's not what I'm doing to the case. It's actually what your facts reveal. I will help you put it together, curate it, you can help yourself to that. I have a lot of clients who actually are really good at putting their cases together. I mean, six, sometimes seven figure outcomes. No joke folks, people actually spend the time they understand what their situation is in a leverage really well to get a huge payout. It happens. So hiring an employment lawyer, hire an employment lawyer on an hourly basis versus contingency. When you approach a lawyer for contingency. You better be able to demonstrate you have a lot of damages. If you just financially can't afford it, I understand that happens. But the contingent lawyer is looking for damages. If you just lost your job for $150,000, well, and he lost it yesterday, you really don't have any damages, unless you're able to show some type of claim. But even then, we still need damages. So what I'm trying to get out, folks is that giving a contingency to a lawyer at 33%, generally, you might be given away more than you need to. Because if your only task is really negotiating a severance deal, then you want to pay it on the hourly because that's cheaper for you. Because you're only gonna go through the following stages, drafting affidavit, presenting a notice of claims letter to the employer and demand letter to the employer, and then conducting negotiation, and then review the agreement, sign it madonn get paid. That's it, what's happening a couple of weeks, maybe less. Hours wise, I can't really estimate but it's not that long. But it's a lot less costly than having a 33% contingency case, I will tell you a story or two story can include names, we working in a matter an hourly basis client wanted a contingency, didn't tell us about it. After we had prepared the case, to the complaint stage, we were at $9 million, I think something like that. And the value, not this is true story. The client switched hired another lawyer settle the matter after was filed in court. And the lawyer didn't do anything because the other lawyers Nullah, because they use our complaint, the client made a mistake, the client actually was a lawyer, and no joke and gave away the whole thing. I'm sure it settled for very, a lot of money. But the lawyer gave away a lot of percentage for the lawyer on the other side, new lawyer didn't really I'm sorry, the new lawyers you hired didn't really do much. In the way of Do you know, on top of what we already done, we were at the end of our process and all they had settled it after maybe a month in court. That's not a long time. So back to the story is the hiring an employment lawyer on hourly basis is cheaper for you in a severance negotiation when you're not pursuing a complaint in court that was so I think I made that point. Now, eight negotiate severance using an attorney. I'm not trying to bolster the aspect of the attorney, but we have the experience of dealing with employers all the time, any employment lawyer for that matter, and versus not doing it. And it's employers, you know, they play hard and fast. And if you don't have an attorney, they're they're going to abuse the situation. So be prepared for that if you go down that angle, but if you have an employment attorney who understands the process and has reputable reputation, so maybe the website is looks like ours, and just just talks in it just oozes out employment information to that's the type of lawyer you want to hire and somebody with a lot of experience. Number nine during the negotiation, you may need to file administrative complaints to bolster your case. So this means you file the complaint Opportunity Commission for or the New York City Civil Rights Commission to register your complaints. It is really an administrative exhaustion part if requirement if you have a discrimination claim. And it tells you the side that you're very serious about the matter. It's it's public, but it's not public. You can't search these administrative filings. They it's not Google searchable, you actually need a FOIA request consented to by both parties in order to have the release of the information. So filing may involve in agency complaints. I also use another tactic to I take your affidavit and stick it in the form of a federal caption complaint where it's the same fact pattern, and that change the pronouns and they add complaint counts to the to the thing and make it turn into a lawsuit on paper. And I sent it to them aside for purposes of their of settlement seminar purposes to make the employer understand one important thing at the fact pattern that the client originally gave in the EEOC affidavit that was sworn or whatever affidavit we're using. Now up here is in the federal complaint, all of the garbage that we put in there about the employer, that's embarrassing. I'm going to tell you, folks, it's a real huge deal when the employers see this because most lawyers you don't know this, they draft complaints that are kind of lawyer ish, you know, and they're very generic and they're not they're not the real true hardcore narrative that a client can tell you in his or her own words, what happened, while I maintain that same his or that personal approach, in the fact pattern, because that's the drama of the story, including every little nuance of the corporate bad behavior is also included in the complaint. I use that for severance negotiation purposes, and it really does wonders to help the other side. Consider, wow, do we want this information out there in public? And so that's a leverage tool. Lastly, number 10. Part of your first aid, layoff kid is sign the deal after negotiating the severance agreement, exit the implement, that's how you would exit and then get paid. And the one final thing is, don't comment about what you receive for your severance, because it violates your confidentiality commit of your settlement agreement. So say, No comment. I know that other people do talk, but that's their fault, not yours. So those are 10, top 10 things about a severance first aid, layoff kit that you're going to be dealing with, in you have choices there. So hope that helps you. Good luck, and I'll talk to you soon. If you'd like the employees to have a guide, I really encourage you to leave a review. We try really hard to produce information to you that's informative, that's timely that you can actually use and solve problems on your own and at your employment. So if you like to leave a review anywhere you listen to our podcasts, please do so. And leave five stars because anything less than five is really not as good, right? I'll keep it up. I'll keep the standards up. I'll keep the information flowing out you. If you'd like to send me an email and ask me a question. I'll actually review it and post it on there. You can send it to mcarey at capclaw.com That's cap claw.com