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Los Angeles Litigation Law Firm 424-284-2401

What To Do If My Employer Says I Need To Sign A Severance Agreement?


If your employer fires you for whatever reason and asks you to sign a severance agreement to get your final paycheck, you may wonder, “Should I sign the agreement or not?

Usually, a severance agreement states that the departing employee waives their right to file a claim against the employer in exchange for receiving severance pay.

However, you may be hesitant to sign a severance agreement if your employer violated labor laws and you do not want to lose your right to file a lawsuit. At the same time, you want to get the wages owed to you, so you are facing a dilemma.

So what do you do?

If your employer says you need to sign a severance agreement if you want to get paid before you leave the company, consult with a Los Angeles employment lawyer.

Are Severance Agreements Legal in California?

California Labor Law allows employers and their employees to sign agreements regarding the terms and conditions of employment, including but not limited to:

  • The number of hours worked
  • Job location
  • The responsibilities and duties of the employee

Many employers and employees alike mistakenly believe that if they sign an agreement, the provisions are automatically legally binding and valid. However, that is not the case with most severance agreements in California.

Under California law, employers cannot legally waive or avoid their statutory obligations such as:

  • Paying all wages due when terminating employment
  • Paying overtime to eligible employees
  • Ensuring a safe environment at work
  • Providing workers’ compensation benefits to employees who sustain on-the-job injuries or develop work-related illnesses

In addition, California Labor Code § 206.5 specifically prohibits any agreements in which an employee waives his or her rights in exchange for receiving all the wages owed to them.

Can My Employer Refuse to Pay After I Don’t Sign the Severance Agreement?

Unfortunately, the situation when an employer refuses to pay after an employee refuses to sign a severance agreement is not uncommon. However, a skilled attorney will be able to protect your rights and ensure that you get paid despite your refusal to sign the agreement.

If your employer asks you to sign a severance agreement, send them a letter stating that you:

  • Refuse to sign the agreement;
  • Believe that their demand to waive the rights violates California’s employment laws; and
  • Demand the payment of your owed wages despite your refusal to sign the severance agreement

If your employer refuses to pay all of your wages due because you do not sign a severance agreement, contact an experienced employment law attorney immediately.

What Happens if I Have Already Signed the Severance Agreement?

Just because you have signed the severance agreement does not mean that it is valid and enforceable. No one blames you for signing a severance agreement to receive the owed wages.

Since many of the provisions of severance agreements are unenforceable, the signed document may be null and void. If the agreement violates California laws, your employer cannot use the document against you.

If you have already signed the severance agreement — or if your employer has asked you to sign one — you need the assistance of a knowledgeable lawyer to fight for your rights. Contact our Los Angeles employment lawyer at Litigation, P.C. to discuss your rights and options. Call 424-284-2401.


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