The poor economy in the U.S. makes noncompete agreements terribly unfair for employees. However, even if you don’t have a noncompete, getting fired…or laid off…or down-sized hurts! It may not hurt as bad if you are able to negotiate a “severance package” before your departure.

First, let me say that there is no law which requires your employer to pay you any severance benefits. However, employers don’t want you bad-mouthing their company, contacting current employees, contacting board members, etc. There also may be some “skeletons in the closet” that the employer wishes to keep in the closet.

Here are some suggested guidelines for negotiating you severance package:

1. Negotiate with someone with decision making authority.
2. Be patient and don’t let your employer bully you into making a quick decision.
3. Don’t be intimidated by an unrealistic deadline.
4. Be realistic in what you want and don’t give your employer your bottom line too quickly.
5. Stress the fairness of your proposal.
6. Don’t be embarrassed to discuss the economic hardships you and your family will face.
7. Prepare a list of your accomplishments and remind them of your extra efforts.

If you reach an agreement, your employer will want you to sign a release which finalizes the agreement and prevents any lawsuits down the road. It is always a good idea to have legal counsel review the settlement agreement BEFORE you sign.

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