Can your employer legally refuse to pay your severance?

On Behalf of | Feb 3, 2022 | Employee Rights

The transition from one job to another can be difficult, especially if there is a gap in employment or paydays. And, the more skilled a position, the longer it can take for someone to find and move into a similar role at another company.

Certain employees, such as executives and engineers, often negotiate severance agreements as part of their employment contracts. By arranging for pay after they leave a company – and even the right to retain benefits for a certain amount of time – they make the transition from one workplace to another financially easier on them and their family.

As a skilled employee in New York, you may have signed a severance agreement with your employer. However, you were laid off and now they refuse to pay. Do you have options? Possibly.

You may have a breach-of-contract claim

There is no statutory right to severance pay under New York law. However, if you and your employer executed a contract, a breach of that contract by your employer may entitle you to possible damages if you were to initiate a claim.

Reviewing your contract can help you confirm the terms of your severance agreement, what you should have received and didn’t. There may also be clauses that outline certain circumstances that would exempt your employer from paying you your severance.

However, contracts often contain legalese and provisions that laypersons have a difficult time understanding. Getting an attorney equipped at reading and interpreting contracts can help determine if you can pursue a possible cause of action against your employer.


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