Never look a severance in the mouth

Never look a severance in the mouth

Never look a severance in the mouth 150 150 Lauren Ellerman

I know, odd title.

Years ago I worked in Loudoun County Virginia for a great General Practice Law Firm (Sevila, Saunders, Huddleston & White) and my old boss used to handle traffic, DUI cases. He would tell clients “never look a gift reckless” in the mouth.. obviously referring to the phrase never look a gift horse in the mouth in reference to a traffic court plea agreement.

Well, when folks call my office about the severance agreement and package they have been offered, I usually give the same advice.

Severance is very rare these days, and often offered as a gesture of good faith. Sure, there are some strings attached (like don’t sue us strings) but 96% of the time (this is my very unofficial estimate) people don’t have valid claims to give up anyway.

So, while I am happy to review and evaluate your severance agreement, unless it has a new non-compete or new restrictive covenant, I would encourage you to take the “take it or leave it approach.” Take the money and sign away your lawsuit rights, or leave the money. Also, practically speaking unless you are a high powered executive at a large organization,  severance packages are also almost never negotiable.

I know it stinks to be fired. But it stinks more to be fired without a severance agreement.



About the author

Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at

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