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Severance agreements for older workers must be carefully written

On Behalf of | Aug 25, 2022 | Discrimination |

If you are a departing employee 40 years of age or older, your severance agreement must contain certain references.

The agreement must be carefully written in order to conform to standards set forth by the EEOC, ADEA and OWBP.

Specific language

The Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires that a severance agreement for an older departing employee contain specific language, or the agreement will not hold up in court. For example, to be enforceable, the language cannot be “overly broad or misleading.” This requirement pertains especially to non-compete or confidentiality provisions.

ADEA and OWBP requirements

Severance agreements for departing employees aged 40 or older must adhere to the requirements set forth under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Older Workers Benefit Protection Plan (OWBP). Employers must allow a federal minimum of 21 days for a departing older employee to review a severance agreement. The employer must allow another seven days during which the recipient can revoke the agreement. In terms of content, the writer must avoid using complex sentences and legal jargon. The document must contain plain language that is easy to read. It must not misinform in any way nor embellish upon agreement benefits or limitations on the departing worker’s post-employment conduct. It must also contain a reference to the ADEA and a recommendation that the recipient seeks legal consultation before signing.

Legal guidance follow-up

In seeking legal counsel as the severance agreement recommends, you can ensure that the severance agreement for employees aged 40 and older meets federal requirements. A well-drafted agreement should serve your interests and be enforceable in court, should that become necessary.