In times of corporate restructuring or a Reduction in Force (RIF), employees often grapple with a significant decision: whether to accept a severance package. It’s important to approach this crossroads with clarity and careful thought. Here are key questions to ask when presented with a severance offer as part of a RIF:
- What Does the Severance Package Include?Before reaching a decision, delve into the details of the severance package. Understand its components, such as salary continuation, health benefits, outplacement services, and more. A comprehensive grasp will empower you to make an informed choice.
- Was the RIF Inclusion Lawful or Suspicious?As you evaluate the severance offer, scrutinize the circumstances that led to your RIF inclusion. If you suspect your selection was based on a protected characteristic—like age, gender, or race—seeking legal advice is imperative. This becomes especially vital since accepting a severance package often involves waiving your right to pursue legal claims related to your RIF.
- How Does This Affect My Unemployment Benefits?Gauge the potential impact of the severance agreement on your eligibility for unemployment benefits. Seek professional guidance to understand and protect your financial stability.
- Understanding the OWBPA Notice:In most circumstances involving a RIF, employers are required to provide employees aged 40 and above with an Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) Notice. This notice informs you of your rights and protections, particularly concerning age discrimination claims. It must include:
- A list of the job positions being eliminated
- The ages of both individuals selected for the RIF and those not selected
- A description of the selection criteria used in the RIF process
- An explanation of the time frame for considering the severance offer
- Information about consulting an attorney before accepting the offer
Review the OWBPA notice both to determine that your employer included the appropriate information but also to determine if the RIF circumstances suggest that older workers were selected at a rate disproportionate to younger workers. If yes, seeking legal advice is important before signing any release.
Facing a RIF can be emotionally tumultuous, but armed with the right questions and guided by expert counsel, you can navigate this terrain skillfully. Consulting with an experienced employment attorney is wise, as it offers the necessary direction to safeguard your rights and make well-informed decisions. In times of change, always remember that securing your future is of the utmost importance.