Is Your Company’s Severance Agreement in Order?
A severance agreement is a legal document that defines the terms of separation between an employer and an employee. A typical severance agreement outlines the terms of compensation, benefits, and stipulations for the distribution of funds and for legal protections against future lawsuits. When done correctly, a severance agreement benefits both the employer and employee, but when done incorrectly, costly and time-consuming legal battles can ensue.
Key Areas of Consideration for Employers Offering Severance Packages
Employers need to be very careful when drafting severance agreements. The language of the contract and the stipulations outlined in the agreement can have a significant effect on the successful separation between an employer and employee. Employers that ensure their employees fully understand the conditions of the severance agreement can avoid future legal problems. A successful severance agreement will consider the following:
- Ensure the employee has enough time to properly evaluate an agreement before signing, and to seek legal counsel, if they wish. In a situation where a former employee brings a lawsuit against an employer after termination, they need only convince the court that they were not fully informed of the contractual terms, or that they felt coerced into signing the agreement. Ensuring that the employer has given the employee the chance to carefully consider the terms of the agreement and seek legal counsel before signing the agreement can avoid future legal battles.
- Do not prohibit the employee from filing future claims with governmental agencies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Severance agreements should also allow the employee’s participation in future investigations conducted by a governmental agency. The employer has the right to include stipulations in the agreement that prohibits the employee from collecting additional compensation from the employer as a result of these investigations.
- Ensure that the employee feels satisfied that the terms of the severance agreement are fair in exchange for the benefits they receive. Disgruntled employees and those that feel they have been treated unfairly are more apt to file a future claim against an employer that imposes strict stipulations for little reward. When an employer rewards an employee’s loyalty to the corporation with monetary benefits, the former employee is more likely to refrain from filing a future lawsuit.
Attorney Review of Severance Contracts can Avoid Future Legal Problems
Employers are wise to consult with an experienced employment lawyer when drafting or revising a current severance agreement. A qualified employment lawyer can review the terms of your agreement and advise you of what future impact your severance agreement can have on your company. The legal jargon used in the severance agreement needs to be strong to hold up in court if it is challenged.
A sound severance agreement will clearly outline the terms of the agreement, the distribution of compensation and benefits offered in the agreement, and protect your company from costly and time-consuming lawsuits. Employers that continuously review and update their severance agreements have the best success with employee terminations. Legal counsel can ensure that your legal rights are protected now and in the future.
West Chester Employment Lawyers at MacMain Leinhauser Provide Counsel and Representation for Severance Agreements
The West Chester employment lawyers at MacMain Leinhauser can help your business establish severance agreements that provide legal protection from lawsuits filed from terminated employees. Call us at 484-318-7106 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our West Chester, Pennsylvania offices serve clients in Philadelphia, Chester County, and throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
Camden Police Adopts New Use-Of-Force Policy
Recently, the Camden New Jersey Police department released a new revised use-of-force policy. The revised policy states that officers must avoid unnecessary use of force, minimize usage of force, and do everything possible to respect and preserve the sanctity of human life. This policy exceeds the threshold set by the Supreme Court’s standard that allows use of force that a reasonable officer would use when facing similar circumstances.
The Camden County Police Department (“CCPD”) articulated six core principles emphasizing the sanctity of human life:
Principle One. Officers may use force only to accomplish specific law enforcement objectives. The use of force is limited to a narrow list of situations.
Principle Two. Officers should de-escalate confrontations, minimize use of force, use reasonable force, as necessary and as a last resort.
Principle Three. Officers may only use proportionate amount of force suited for the particular circumstance.
Principle Four. Deadly force is only authorized as a last resort.
Principle Five. Officers must provide prompt medical aid and request medical assistance immediately.
Principle Six. Employees of CCPD have a duty to report and stop uses of force that violate the department’s policies and laws. Members may be disciplined for violations or failing to report a fellow officer’s violation.
Since 2015, Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson has directed the CCPD to adopt the use-of-force training and de-escalation tactics to prevent deadly encounters. De-escalation tactics require that officers slow things down first so that the encounter does not turn deadly. The policy directive recently codified the practices in place since 2015.
This policy directive emphasizes that even if the use-of-force fits one of the narrow list of situations where it may be sanctioned, it should still be a last resort. Chief Thomson compared the police officers’ oath to that of a doctor’s Hippocratic oath and reiterated the Police officer’s duty of “first, do no harm.” Both the New Jersey ACLU and the police union have applauded this new revised policy.
Attorneys at MacMain Leinhauser Represent Law Enforcement Agencies
The Governmental entity representation practice group of MacMain Leinhauser has extensive experience in representing police and law enforcement in government liability and civil rights claims. We offer pre-litigation counseling, review of polices and practices, assessment of internal training and seminars to assist police departments and agencies in avoiding litigation. For a consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys, please contact our office at 484-318-7106 or submit an online inquiry. We provide legal services in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and Chester County.
Important Principles of IDEA
Every child in the United States is entitled to a public education. This includes students with disabilities who may require additional accommodations. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law requiring schools to take the necessary steps to empower students with disabilities to learn alongside other students. The law covers 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, and children and mandates that schools meet certain conditions for their students.
Free Appropriate Public Education
The essential tenet behind the IDEA is the guarantee of a free appropriate public education for students who have different learning needs. Schools must provide specialized services to meet these needs, which may vary from student to student, and help to prepare them for their future. These services are provided, like all public education, at taxpayer expense and at no additional cost to the student and their family.
Individualized Education Plan
To create this tailored educational approach, key school staff members and the student’s parents collaborate to create an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which lays out all of the services the student will receive to help them access educational resources. This includes plans for helping them to access extracurricular and nonacademic activities, if applicable. Parents have the right to be involved in the planning for their child and to have access to all the relevant information about their child’s progress. They and the school must work together effectively for the benefit of the child.
The student’s IEP will include benchmarks for evaluation to ensure they are achieving their academic goals. When drafting the IEP, the team will establish the student’s current academic and functional levels. From there, the student will have personalized annual, measurable goals and regular progress reports to ensure that the IEP is getting the desired results.
Least Restrictive Environment
Perhaps most importantly, the IDEA requires that students with disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environment possible. Some adaptations may need to be made to accommodate their different learning needs, but as much as possible, they should be educated and participate in activities alongside and in the same manner as non-disabled students. The students should only be separated if their supplemental services cannot be effectively implemented in the same classroom.
When drafting and implementing an IEP, there may be disagreements between the parents and the school as to what is best for the child. Parents and teachers both have the right to challenge care decisions that are made, and the IDEA lays out specific procedural protections to ensure that the student’s rights are not infringed upon while these disputes are resolved. For example, students have the right to stay put in the school while discussions are taking place. If a dispute cannot be resolved through mediation, the IEP team may need to go through a due process hearing; if it escalates further, one of the parties involved may pursue a civil lawsuit.
Philadelphia Education Lawyers at MacMain Leinhauser Help Schools Accommodate Students With Disabilities
The education law practice at MacMain Leinhauser has the knowledge and experience to help schools and educational institutions provide the best possible learning environment for their students while protecting their interests. We have handled all types of IDEA cases and can help institutions successfully implement IEPs, as well as provide comprehensive representation in the event of a dispute. With offices conveniently located in West Chester, we work with schools throughout the Philadelphia area and Chester County. Call us today at 484-318-7106 or contact us online to speak to a Philadelphia education lawyer.