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Modern Office

Empower Your Exit:
Legal Strategies for New York Workers Facing Termination

The city that never sleeps is famous for its competitive work environment. Unfortunately, that drive sometimes leads to the bitter end of the employment journey: termination. Whether you’ve been handed a pink slip or offered a severance package, the actions you take next can define your professional future.


At-Will Employment: A Double-Edged Sword


New York is an "at-will" employment state, meaning that the default rule is that either you or your employer can end the employment relationship at any time, for any reason—unless that reason is unlawful. Discrimination, retaliation, or termination in violation of an employment contract are exceptions to this rule.


Was Your Termination Lawful?


If you suspect that you’ve been terminated for an illegal reason, such as discrimination based on age, race, or gender, or perhaps in retaliation for reporting harassment, the clock is ticking. New York has various time limits for initiating legal action, so consult an employment attorney right away.


Severance Packages: More Than Just a Handshake and Goodbye


In our experience, employees considering severance agreements are too quick to assume that the first draft is the employer’s final offer.  But that is seldom the case.  We encourage our clients to think of it as merely the opening offer.  A severance agreement is a transaction like any other, and savvy business people try to save money wherever they can. By presenting a severance agreement, your employer is probably not simply giving you a parting gift.  They want something from you.  Specifically, they want you to agree to certain legal terms that they believe will help protect the company’s interest. You should make sure you understand what you’re giving them, and that you are getting a good deal in return.


Components of a Severance Package


Severance packages can include not just a lump sum payment but also continuation of benefits like health insurance, or even clauses that could affect your future employment, such as non-compete or non-disparagement agreements. Understanding these terms is vital for your next career steps.


STOP before you sign


Employers commonly try to rush you into signing a severance agreement.  This is because departing employees are far less likely to negotiate or consult an attorney if they think time is short.  It also exploits the fact that recently-terminated employees are going through a lot of feelings, such as disappointment and frustration with their departure, and apprehension about the future.  This can be overwhelming.  It can cloud your judgment and make you want to ‘just sign and be done with it.’  But many people find themselves looking back and regretting that decision.  It never hurts just to discuss the situation with an attorney to make sure you understand the entirety of the situation. 


Your employment may have ended, but your career hasn't. Knowledge is power, and in New York, the law often has your back, even if your employer doesn’t. Reach out to us today for a consultation, and let’s take the first step toward securing your future.


Set up a consultation here or call us at (646) 568-4280



The content presented on this website, including this article, is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional legal advice. The opinions expressed herein are those of Thompson & Skrabanek and are provided "as is" without any warranty, express or implied.  While we strive to ensure the information is accurate and up-to-date, laws and regulations can change, and each legal situation is unique. Therefore, the information provided should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional legal counsel tailored to your individual circumstances.


We strongly encourage you to consult with a qualified attorney for advice concerning your specific legal situation. No attorney-client relationship is created by your use of this website or by relying upon the content provided.

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