In Virginia the answer is “no,” unless you have an employment agreement which provides this benefit. Even though your employer is not required to provide severance benefits absent an agreement, there is much more to this issue.

First, you have just lost your job…what do you have to lose by engaging in a little discussion about severance benefits? Nothing.

Your employer may prefer to part ways with you on a friendly basis (that is called non-disparagement in legal terms). Look at your company’s Employee Handbook to see if severance benefits are discussed. Check your union contract to see if the employer must provide you with “parting gifts.” Have you been harassed, discriminated against or retaliated against while you were employed? If so, your ex-employer might want make sure they don’t get sued right after you clean out your desk.

Many employers will pay some type of severance benefit like one week of salary for every year worked. Even if your ex-employer is unwilling to pay $$$, try asking about keeping:

1. BlackBerry, cell phone, or laptop.
2. Any home office furniture or equipment.
3. The company car.
4. A prorated bonus.
5. Health-club membership.
6. Employee discounts for the cell phone plan.
7. Use of a day-care facility.

Most importantly, request things that will help you land your next job….like a positive recommendation and outplacement services.

Dan Frith
Dan Frith

Dan Frith has over 25 years of experience representing individuals and families in cases of medical malpractice throughout Virginia. He has been named "Best Medical Malpractice Attorney" by Roanoker Magazine and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To speak with Dan, contact him by email at