Not paid what I was promised. Should I raise that issue in severance negotiations?

Question: I work for a company that recently got taken over by a larger company. It is likely that I will be laid off because of the merger. When I was hired four years ago I was told my salary and bonus would be $180,000. Even though I was never paid that much, I did not file a complaint. Do I have a case to collect what wasn’t paid to me as part of my severance negotiation?

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Answer: Yes. Anything that you were promised, assured, or told you would get, should be raised at this time in your severance negotiations. Since your employer will be asking you to sign a release of all claims – including this claim – as part of your severance agreement, now is the time to raise the issue, or it will be forever gone.

The hard part for you will be to establish that the promise was made to you. We “prove” things in three basic ways: (a) by documentary evidence (such as emails, offer letters, or newspaper ads); (b) by testimonial evidence (testimony that you, your hiring manager, or witnesses might provide), and (c) circumstantial evidence (such as every other person hired when you were hired, at your level, being paid the exact same $180,000).

Bear in mind that you are quite unusual: most people would immediately complain if they were not paid what they were promised. For this reason, you will have to overcome that when you are making your case.

On the other hand, if you can establish that you were promised a certain level of compensation, and were not given that compensation, your claim should be a successful one. Not only should you ask for (a) that money that you were not paid, but you should also ask for (b) severance paid to you calculated at that higher level, and (c) interest on the monies you were not paid.

By all means, raise this claim, and any other claims you may have – this is the time to do just that.

Deadlines are important; don’t let your severance deadline expire. To help you ask for more time, we offer our Model Request for More Time to Review/Sign Your Severance Agreement. It shows you “What to Say and How to Say It.”™ To obtain a copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

My Best,
Al Sklover

P.S.: You might be interested in our Master 94-Point Severance Negotiation Checklist, to give you the peace of mind and freedom from worry that you forgot to raise or entertain certain points of discussion and negotiation. To obtain copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

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