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Negotiating Severance Agreements: Protecting Employers' Interests in Florida

Negotiating severance agreements can be a delicate process for Florida-based employers.  However, several steps can be taken to protect their interests while ensuring a fair and amicable resolution.

Understand Florida Laws and Regulations

In Florida, severance agreements are primarily governed by federal laws, such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act), as well as common law principles.  Like in most states, a severance agreement in Florida typically requires some form of consideration (e.g. additional compensation, continued benefits. etc./) to be enforceable.

An employer should review their existing company policies, employee handbook, and any applicable employment contracts to ensure compliance with contractual obligations and determine the scope of severance benefits that may be offered.

Also, employers should be aware that receiving severance pay may affect an employee’s eligibility for unemployment compensation benefits in Florida.  Business owners and employers may want to clarify the impact of severance pay on unemployment benefits in the severance agreement.

Also note, that Florida law requires employers to pay employees their final wages, including any accrued but unused vacation or paid time off, by the next regular payday following their separation from employment.

Draft a Clear and Comprehensive Agreement

The severance agreement should clearly define the terms and conditions of the separation, including severance pay, continuation of benefits, confidentiality obligations, non-disparagement clauses, and other related provisions that may be deemed necessary.  Drafting a clear and comprehensive severance agreement helps minimize misunderstandings and disputes later on.

Protect Confidential Information and Trade Secrets 

The severance agreement should include robust confidentiality provisions to protect the company’s trade secrets, proprietary information, and confidential business strategies.  This may involve requiring the employee to return business property and refrain from disclosing confidential information.

Consider Non-Compete and Non-Solicitation Clauses

Depending on the circumstances of the separation, employers may consider including a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement in the severance package to protect the company’s business interest from unfair competition or solicitation of clients and/or employees.

Seek Legal Guidance for Legal Compliance

While Florida does not have any specific statutes governing severance agreements, employers need to comply with federal laws, as well as ensure that severance agreements adhere to Florida’s legal requirements.

I’m Rob Robinson, and I have been practicing labor and employment law for over 30 years here in the Sunshine State.  I can help you navigate the complexities of negotiating severance agreements while drafting effective and enforceable ones that comply with Florida’s laws and regulations.  I will always have your best interests in mind to help minimize the risk of disputes or legal challenges.

If you need assistance with negotiating a severance agreement, please contact my office immediately.

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