Delaware is an “at will” employment state. Many people, including mid-level managers and executives, believe that this means there is no legal recourse after a wrongful termination or a job loss due to a merger or restructuring.
Sometimes people are fired or “let go” because they have been the squeaky wheel: they have spoken up when the company is not acting with integrity, or they have brought up sensitive issues like unsafe or unfair working conditions*.
2 things to always negotiate in the terms of your departure
If you are fired or laid off you will want to negotiate:
- The maximum severance pay available.
- Extending your health, life and disability insurance for as long as possible.
It’s important to understand what’s actually available to you and to negotiate all terms before you sign and agree to anything.
When to hire an attorney
Sometimes a company hands over a stack of documents all written in legalese and expects you to make serious, long-term decisions that day. The truth is you should take the time to understand what is being offered and to avail yourself to the resources you need. Especially if you are a high-level executive, you will want to also protect your reputation, retirement, payouts or pension.
If you must make decisions that require insider knowledge on how severance packages work, you may want to work with an employment law attorney who has the reputation and experience to give you the guidance you need and deserve. More often than not the amount you pay for this service is well worth the understanding you gain and can, in some cases, mean a larger negotiated severance package.
*If you believe you were fired for whistleblowing or that your termination was an act of discrimination or retaliation, it is in your best interest to speak with an employment law attorney and understand your rights and next steps.