News of layoffs has been getting more frequent in our shifting economy. The tech sector has been particularly hard hit, and experts are left speculating on whether the state of our current climate constitutes a recession. Already, noted companies like Walmart, Groupon, Instacart, and Netflix have made cuts to their workforce.

With layoffs often come severance packages, which is a final opportunity before departing a company to financially prepare yourself for the job transition ahead. Maximizing your agreement is in the best interest for you and your family. Not only is money is included in a package—medical benefits, job search assistance, stocks, and reimbursement for unused PTO can be negotiated. Though these packages are not mandatory, they are often offered as a way for companies to protect themselves against future claims.

Layoffs, unfortunately, can sometimes be used as a way to for a company to disguise other motivations for getting rid of workers. Age discrimination is common, where older workers nearing retirement are laid off and replaced with younger employees. An office once filled with veteran employees can suddenly look very different from one week to the next.  Companies are required to give employees certain statistics in layoffs to prevent against discrimination, but it is not unusual for companies to ignore these requirements.

Other protected groups can also find themselves in such a position. Gender, race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, and other demographics can potentially play a role in layoffs. Though it is not always easy to prove discrimination, if you feel you are experiencing discrimination, it is helpful to discuss your options with an experienced attorney.

If you are part of a protected class and have learned that you will be laid off, do not rush to sign your severance offer. An experienced severance negotiation lawyer can explain the terms of your severance agreement in plain language, and is often able to negotiate a better severance package to help with your transition. Contact us to talk with an employment law attorney to discuss your options.