As an attorney who often deals with employment law, it’s no surprise I’m often contacted by employees whose jobs aren’t going well. Many employees report their employers appear to be preparing to fire them, or trying to force them to quit (by making life hell at work, etc.).
Some of these employees ask me, “Should I just ask my employer to admit they want me gone and ask if they’ll give me a severance?”
There is no catch-all legal advice if you are in this situation, as all situations are different and your particular facts could impact advice an attorney would give. With that said, I can say it is usually not in employees’ interests to raise the topic of severance first.
Here are factors why mentioning “severance” first is often a bad thing for employees: (1) the employers can claim the employees (by mentioning severance first) had “quit”, and use that “quit” notice as basis to try to disqualify the employees from unemployment benefits; (2) the same “quit” theory can often be used to defeat legal claims from employees who pursue discharge-related legal claims (e.g. discriminatory discharge, etc.); (3) the employers may not offer any severance anyway; and/or (4) if the employer was open to offering a severance, the offer may have been better than what the worker envisioned had the worker kept quiet and waited for the employer to mention severance (and a severance offer) first.