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Chicago Employment Lawyer Suggests Reviewing any Severance Package Prior to Acceptance

Never accept a severance package at face value. Take it to a skilled Chicago employment lawyer for review.

It is well known that the U.S. economy is forcing many businesses to cut back operations. That may include laying people off, putting any expansion plans on hold or making deep cuts to the budget. This is all done in the name of being able to stay in business.

“Whatever the reasons for your layoff, you may get offered a severance package. Many of them seem to be, on the surface, good deals. However, some of them have drawbacks you might not be aware of and this is why you need to consult with an employment lawyer,” said Timothy Coffey, a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace.

In today’s economy, one way to cut expenses at the office is to reduce the number of workers on board. This is accomplished through layoffs. Generally, many employers will issue their laid off staff a check for a month or more to help them while they try to find other work. None of these packages are standard and may vary from case to case.

Employers may create severance packages based on a number of criteria, such as how long the worker has been with the company, what their position is, how much they are paid, their performance and other factors that fit the particular employee being laid off and the circumstances at the time. “The thing you need to know about severance is that although you may feel that you deserve it, the employer is normally not required to give you one in a layoff situation,” Coffey said.

On one hand, severance is a bonus that may assist someone get through the rigors of job hunting. On the other, the paperwork that usually goes with a severance package and check usually means an individual does not get their pay for weeks or months. This of course compromises the person trying to keep up with their financial obligations while looking for work.

“The one thing that many people do not realize is that accepting a severance check may disqualify you from getting unemployment benefits. Never just accept what you are given without speaking to an employment attorney first,” Coffey said. “In addition, you may also not be aware of the fact that if you accept the package, you generally are required to release your rights to file a claim against the company for any wrongdoing they may have perpetrated.”

Timothy J. Coffey is a Chicago employment lawyer with, and owner of, The Coffey Law Office, P.C., a Chicago employment litigation firm. To learn more, visit