If you are a departing employee aged 40 or older and have a severance agreement, the contents of that document must comply with EEOC requirements.
That is not all. The agreement must also comply with ADEA and OWBP requirements and more.
The reason for a severance agreement
Perhaps the company you worked for did not provide you with an employment agreement, which usually contains severance information. At this point, your employer may want to provide a severance agreement in return for limiting your post-employment behavior, such as your ability to participate in an impending investigation or lawsuit against the company.
Special age provisions
For employees aged 40 or older, both the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Older Workers Benefit Protection Plan guide the amount of time for review. To comply, you must have a minimum of 21 days in which to consider the agreement, followed by seven more days after signing to reconsider and revoke your decision.
In addition, the language in the severance agreement must be clear and understandable. The writer must avoid the use of legal jargon and complex sentences so that the recipient of the agreement has no trouble understanding any waived rights. The wording must not mislead or misinform. It must neither exaggerate what the employer offers the departing employee nor hide the limitations the company seeks to impose. The wording, in fact, must comply with the specific language requirements of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. For example, if the language in non-compete or non-disparagement provisions is too broad, or if it infringes upon the departing employee’s right to cooperate with an investigation into the former employer’s discriminatory practices, a court will strike the agreement down.
Seeking a review
If you are a departing employee aged 40 or older, your severance agreement must also contain a recommendation to seek legal counsel. If there are any issues with the agreement’s language, an attorney experienced with employment law may spot them before you come up against the signing deadline.