Am I Entitled to Severance Pay: A quick guide for employees in Kentucky.
In today’s employment environment, it is not uncommon for a long-time employee to be approached by his or her employer with a severance agreement, with little or no warning. Often employees are caught off guard when they’re told they are being terminated and then asked to sign severance agreement.
Do I have a right to severance pay if my employer fires me?Unless you have a written contract or enforceable severance policy with your employer, in Kentucky, as an at-will employee, you are not legally entitled to severance pay. While you don't have a right to severance pay, you do have a right to receive your final paycheck. Your employer cannot condition receipt of your final paycheck on a requirement that you sign a severance agreement. However, if you feel you have been targeted for termination based upon your gender, religion, race/national origin, age, or disability, because you complained about discrimination, or in retaliation for making a complaint against your employer, you could be the victim of a wrongful termination.
Do I have to sign a release before I can receive any severance pay?While most employers will ask, or more likely require, that you sign a release before you receive any severance payments, there is no legal requirement that you sign a release. Many employers use severance payments as a way to control and limit their future liability when terminating an employee. The only way an employer can limit its liability for wrongful termination or discrimination is to obtain a release of your legal claims. Be aware that if you do sign a release in order to get your severance pay, you are most likely giving up your right to pursue any legal action against your employer. This includes the right to bring a suit against your employer for wrongful termination.
My employer told me I have to sign the severance agreement immediately.In some cases, employees who are subject to a lay-off or a reduction-in-force are protected by the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act. The OWBPA requires that some employees be given a certain amount of time to review a severance agreement and, in some situations, you may even have seven days in which to revoke a severance agreement that you have already signed.
My employer wants me to sign a non-competition agreement. Should I?Occasionally, employers will asks employees to sign a non-competition agreement as part of the severance agreement. Remember, if you sign a non-competition agreement, it can significantly limit your ability to work in your chosen profession. Courts in Kentucky will generally enforce non-competition agreements as long as the time period and geographical area of the agreement are reasonable. It's always a good idea to consult with an attorney before signing a non-competition agreement.