If you are 40 years of age or older and are leaving your job involuntarily, your employer may provide you with a severance agreement to sign.
Severance agreements for older departing employees must adhere to certain regulations established by the EEOC and other government agencies. Is yours in compliance?
About your severance agreement
In exchange for the limitations your former employer wishes to place on your post-employment life, the company may offer financial compensation or other benefits through a severance agreement. For example, your employer may want you to agree not to join in a lawsuit against the company or agree not to go to work for a competitor for a certain number of years.
About the language
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has strict language guidelines. The severance agreement for a departing employee aged 40 or older must contain easy-to-understand language that is not “overly broad and misleading.” If the agreement is not well-drafted, it will not hold up in court. Moreover, the agreement cannot infringe upon the right of the recipient to file a charge of discrimination against the former company.
About time requirements
Both the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Older Workers Benefit Protection Plan (OWBP) create a minimum of 21 days the older employee must have in which to consider the severance agreement. In addition, there must be seven days following the signing in which the departing employee can decide to revoke the agreement.
About legal guidance
Your severance agreement must contain a reference to the ADEA. It must also advise you to consult an attorney who can review the document and ensure that it meets the requirements for a departing employee 40 years of age or older.