What can I do if my employer threatens to stop paying my severance if I file for unemployment? 23 Answers as of August 13, 2012

My previous employer has threatened that they will stop paying my severance agreement if I file for unemployment and my position was dissolved with the company, what can I do?

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Higgins Benjamin, PLLC | Jonathan Wall
Is the agreement to pay severance in writing? As part of the severance, did you agree not to apply from unemployment? As a practical matter, oftentimes you will not be entitled to receive unemployment benefits while you are receiving severance benefits (it depends on how much you were making, the amount of your weekly unemployment benefit, and how much severance you are receiving). If the agreement to pay severance is not in writing, you can still establish the terms through communications - emails, for example. Generally, though, a former employer can't stop you from applying for and receiving unemployment benefits. A lawyer will be better able to advise you given the specific facts of your case.
Answer Applies to: North Carolina
Replied: 8/13/2012
Sprattlin Castor LLC | Nancy Castor Sprattlin
Depending on the terms of your separation agreement and circumstances of your lay off, your employer can stop your severance if you file for unemployment. You are not entitled to severance pay except in the case of a mass lay off or shut down where the Company provided severance in lieu of notice pursuant the WARN Act. You may be entitled to a severance if the Company has provided severance to everyone being laid off but the terms of the severance are usually spelled out in the severance agreement. Additionally, if your former employer grant you severance pay and you receive this money in the form of weekly payments, you may be ineligible for unemployment benefits anyway.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 8/13/2012
James M. Osak, P.C.
James M. Osak, P.C. | James M. Osak
You have a "contract" with your employer. If they stop then it's a contract dispute . . . you sue under the contract. As far as filing for unemployment . . . if they punish you (stop paying) then this may violate MI "public policy" and you could sue them and can ask for the money owed PLUS emotional damages. It all depends though on what the "severance agreement" (contract) says. Good luck.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 8/13/2012
Dennis P. Mikko Attorney at Law | Dennis P. Mikko
If you are receiving severence pay, this may limit your ability to collect unemployment until the severence pay ends. If the severence package is in the form of a contract, your previous employer is bound by the terms of that contract. You should review the contract to determine what rights you have.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 8/13/2012
Law Offices of Charles R. Perry
Law Offices of Charles R. Perry | Charles R. Perry
A waiver of a right to unemployment benefits is invalid in California, absent some very narrow exceptions. An invalid waiver would not be enforced by the courts. The governing statute is California Unemployment Insurance Code Section 1342. I assume that you have a written severance agreement with your former employer. You should review the terms of that agreement to see if it says anything about your employer's rights to refuse to pay severance. Any provision that you have waived your right to uninsurance benefits, however, is likely invalid, and your employer should be required to pay you pursuant to the agreement. This is true even if you file for unemployment. It may make sense for you to contact an employment lawyer, who can draft a letter to your former employer that says the company must continue the agreed-upon severance pay, and advise you as to the specifics of your case. Good luck.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/13/2012
    Sedin Begakis & Bish | Mindy Bish
    It depends if the severance is included in a written agreement and what that agreement says. If your severance is equal to or more than unemployment then why would you file for unemployment ? If your severance is less than unemployment then I would recommend seeking the benefits which pay the most. No matter what you would likely not be able to collect both.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/13/2012
    Ballon Stoll Bader & Nadler, P.C.
    Ballon Stoll Bader & Nadler, P.C. | Marshall B. Belloven
    It all depends upon the language of your severance agreement. If it prohibits you from filing for unemployment benefits then your employer may be within its rights. However, if there is no such language in the agreement then you may have a valid "breach of contract" claim against your former employer if your severance payments are in fact stopped.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/13/2012
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    It depends of the contract (severance agreement).
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/13/2012
    Mansell Law LLC
    Mansell Law LLC | Greg R. Mansell
    Wait until your severance expires (however many weeks it was for) then apply for unemployment. Depending on how your severance is structured, this is probably required anyway before you can start collecting unemployment.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 8/13/2012
    The Phillips Law Firm
    The Phillips Law Firm | Joseph J Ganz
    Generally, that would be prohibited but I would need to see the severance agreement . An agreed contract will usually define the rights of the contracting party.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/13/2012
    Steven Miller | Steven Miller
    I would need more information. But if your employer let you go, gave you severance, you need to look at the document (if any that was signed). do you waive your right to severance if you file for unemployment (that would hard to believe). What was contained in any "release" you may have signed? I do need more information, but absent seeing anything, an employer fighting on unemployment in this scenario, rubs me the wrong way, and does not seem right.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/13/2012
    WILLIAM L SANDERS, ATTORNEY AT LAW | William L. Sanders
    There is nothing you can do. Employers are not required to pay severance, and may terminate this payment for any reason. Any reason.. Severance pay is disqualifying in GA, so it is likely you will not collect UI until the severance pay ends. Ga uses this formula: Total severance pay divided that by your average weekly wage over the last year. The resulting number is the number of weeks that you will be disqualified Wait and file your UI claim when the severance pay ends.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/13/2012
    Reeves Aiken & Hightower | Arthur K. Aiken
    In South Carolina, your rights probably depend on the terms of your severance agreement. If you have a copy of your severance agreement, I would have it reviewed by a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 8/13/2012
    Clos, Russell & Wirth, P.C. | Charles E. Clos
    If you have signed a contract then you cannot receive both.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/13/2012
    Law Offices of Linh T. Nguyen
    Law Offices of Linh T. Nguyen | Linh T. Nguyen
    This will depend on the language in your severance agreement. You should review it yourself or have an attorney review it for you. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/13/2012
    Law Offices of Steven D. Urban
    Law Offices of Steven D. Urban | Steven D. Urban
    Unless your employer has the right to stop paying you severance, you can bring an action against the employer for breach of contract.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 8/13/2012
    Cuomo LLC
    Cuomo LLC | Oscar Michelen
    What your options are will be dictated by the severance agreement, but because you are getting paid from your employer through your severance agreement will likely make you ineligible for unemployment anyway.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/13/2012
    KEYL ADR Services, LLC | Mark D. Keyl
    Decide whether you want the severance or unemployment. The fact that you are getting severance indicates that your former employer is trying to treat you fairly.
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 8/13/2012
    Law Office of Gregory T. Gibbs | Gregory T. Gibbs
    Under Michigan law you are not entitled to collect unemployment benefits if you receive remuneration for the period during which you seek to collect benefits. Severance is considered to be remuneration. Therefore if you do file for unemployment the UA will find you as not entitled to benefits. As far your employers obligations go the severance agreement governs what conditions allow termination of severance. If the agreement allows the employer to do this then it is allowed. If the agreement does not allow it you can sue for breach of contract.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/13/2012
    The Law Offices of Charles Pernice | Chas Pernice
    If an employer provides severance pay, pursuant to a written or oral policy, the policy or "program" is a contract between the employer and the employee. Such understandings, contracts or agreements may be subject to federal or state regulations. Otherwise, general contract law and principles apply in interpreting or enforcing severance pay agreements. Depending on the agreement you reached with your former employer, filing for unemployment benefits may or may not be something you can still file for w/o breaching the agreement. Weigh the benefits of how much $ you'll receive under the agreement vs. unemployment benefits before you rock the boat?.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/13/2012
    Fisher, Butts, Sechrest & Warner, P.A. | Matthew W. Birk
    You probably cannot collect severance and unemployment at the same time, so you should wait until your severance runs out and then file for unemployment. It is illegal in Florida for an employer to deprive an employee of the right to unemployment.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/13/2012
    Jennifer L. Gottschalk, Esq. | Jennifer Gottschalk
    It depends upon the terms of your severance agreement. If you agreed to forego unemployment benefits under its terms, then you may be "out of luck." Remember that your former employer is responsible for paying into the unemployment benefit fund, so you may be "double-dipping" if you are collecting from both sources.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 8/13/2012
Click to View More Answers:
12 3 4 Free Legal QuestionsConnect with a local attorney