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Friday, January 23, 2015

By Request, Epic's Severance Agreement

Some comments on my first post alluded to a severance agreement. I promised to post it when I received it, so here it is:
The full text:
SEVERANCE AGREEMENT AND RELEASE

Regardless of whether I sign this agreement, I will be paid my normal salary and for my unused vacation accrued through my last day of work, subject to Epic's policies on pay upon termination. (Only add this language if you would not pay out unused vacation)

If I sign this Agreement and abide by its terms, my last day of work at Epic will be ________, 20__ (The "End Date"). For that End Date to be in effect and to receive the severance benefits described below, which are in addition to anything owed to me, I must sign and return this agreement to epic no later than _______, 20__. Prior to the End Date, I will fulfill my commitments to Epic in a professional and timely manner, including abiding by Epic's policies.

Epic will provide me with severance in the form of continuation of my base salary in effect on the End Date, less standard payroll deductions and withholdings, for ____ (__) weeks. The first installment of severance will be provided to me on Epic's first normal payroll date following the End Date that is at least seven (7) business days after Jennifer Peterson in Human Resources receives my signed agreement.

Although my receipt of severance pay and other factors may affect my unemployment insurance benefits, if I am awarded such benefits, Epic will not appeal that award. If I am denied such benefits, Epic also will not appear at any unemployment insurance appeal tribunal hearing unless required by law.

I am not entitled to any other severance, benefits, vacation , paid time off, leave, equity interest, bonus, commission or other payment, compensation, or consideration of any kind (including, for example, that Epic will not match any 401(k) amounts contributed by me in 2012), except those expressly described in this agreement. I have been paid all other compensation owed and for all hours worked except those expressly described in this agreement. I have been paid all other compensation owed and for all hours worked except as described in the first paragraph above, received all leave and leave benefits and protections for which I am eligible, and haven't to my knowledge suffered an on-the-job injury for which I haven't already filed a claim.

I agree not to reapply for or seek employment with or at Epic.

I generally and completely release, and promise not to sue, the Company with respect to any and all releasable claims I may have against the Company. The "Company" includes Epic, it's affiliates and subsidiaries, and its and their past and present officers, directors, employees, agents, owners, insurers, predecessors, successors and assigns. This release does not apply to any claims that may arise after the date I sign this agreement or any claims that cannot be released under applicable law. Otherwise, the release claims include all claims, whether or known now or later discovered, whether based on contract, tort, statute or otherwise, which arise out of or are in any way related to any events, acts, conduct or omissions occurring prior to my signing this agreement, including claims for future damages allegedly arising from the continuation of the effects of any such events, acts, conduct or omissions. For illustration only, the released claims include any claim arising out of (1) alleged discrimination of any type, (2) my Epic employment, agreements, compensation or benefits, or the termination of employment, or (3) any federal, state or local law, regulation, ordinance or order concerning the employee relationship, compensation or benefits, or the termination of employment. Nothing in this release is a waiver of a right to file a charge or complaint with administrative agencies such as the federal EEOC that I cannot be prohibited from or punished for filing as a matter of law, but I waive any right to recover damages or obtain individual relief that might otherwise result from the filing of any such charge with regard to any released claim.

This agreement represents the entire agreement between Epic and me, and it completely supersedes any prior or simultaneous oral, written, or implied agreements, statements or understandings concerning its subject matter. This agreement doesn't supersede my continuing obligations under the Epic Employment Agreement, including for example obligations relating to confidentiality, intellectual property or non-competition, or other continuing obligations that I have to Epic under any other agreement.
This jiggered some memories I had of when Epic tried to get me to repay the moving costs that they incurred by employing me. I told them I would do no such thing, and they let the issue drop.

16 comments:

  1. How long did you work there before leaving that they asked for repayment?

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    1. My move cost several thousand dollars, and per the contract I signed, Epic "forgave" $1000 of moving costs per year of employment. The contract read as though I'd have to repay the difference if I left Epic voluntarily. Additional cursory law research showed that any implicit or explicit promise of continued employment, if breached by the employer, could have grave repurcussions for the employer. Given that my move cost $N000, and I had worked there fewer than N years, I inferred that I would be working there until my moving debts were repaid.

      I was prepared to tell Epic's HR folks that I was planning on working there for at least N years in order to repay the moving costs, but if they fire me they should not expect to recoup any of that. Turns out, saying "No" was enough.

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  2. I work in HR and previously worked at Epic, so I'd like to clarify a few things about Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits determination that should help people in the future:
    1. The Department of Workforce Development considers being asked to leave to be the same as being fired. You've resigned voluntarily to make the transition smoother, but the employer initiated the separation. Don't worry about your UI if this is the case, but maybe print an email from your TL or try to get the terms of the resignation in writing for when DWD calls you to verify.
    2. The only situation where an employer won't have to pay a separated employee UI is for a firing "with cause" (stealing, serious misconduct, continued work rule violations) - performance/business reasons are not a valid reason for an employer to block UI.
    3. The severance language indicates that your UI can be reduced/not paid due to the severance. Which is true, but only for the duration of the severance. It's not permanent. Essentially, UI is considered "income replacement" - so if you receive severance pay for a few weeks, you still have income for those weeks. When it runs out or if it's at a low enough percentage of your previous income, UI will kick in.

    I'll try to post in other places/respond to questions to help folks out. You shouldn't forgo your UI just because a crappy TL spouts lies or the Epic legalese tries to scare you or make it sound like you're ineligible.

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    1. Please...previously employed Epic HR, keep us posted! Any advice appreciated.

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  3. I believe I was the cause of adding I will not reseek employment. My last day as TS I applied to CATS and had a call the next day saying "you'd be perfect when can we schedule an interview" two days later, "I'm sorry I need to cancel the interview we aren't allowed to hire you"

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  4. I just went through this process - but I didn't have to sign any agreement at all. There was no resignation letter or severance agreement. There was also no severance package. The HR employee said that was handled by your TL if it was handled at all (my mentee talked to her TL about severance and he said "That's an HR thing").

    My leaving was Epic-initiated, but I chose to take the "grace period" (give my one month's notice) but I found a job earlier so it was shortened. I don't know if this means I "quit" and that's why I didn't sign anything.

    There was no pertinent paperwork. I just received a copy of my original contract and some paperwork on COBRA and how they're taking what's not fully vested in my 401K and that's about it.

    I have no idea what to think about this or if any of the things talked about in this severance agreement apply to me. I know this is just to keep they're involuntary turnover low, but the fact they won't put anything in writing discussing the fact that this was Epic-initiated worries me. For people who don't have jobs lined up, how will they prove to Unemployment that it was Employer initiated?

    It was a little surreal, to be honest.

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  5. I went through this process recently, as well. My TL had "the talk" with me on a Friday, gave me the weekend to "think about it," and she dealt with asking HR most questions before we agreed upon my last day (4 weeks and a few days out). Epic would not give me a severance package, though I did not push hard on this. They paid me for all of my accrued vacation, and my sick days went to waste. I asked about relocation expenses (more than $4K), and they said I would not owe any of this back.

    Similar to the experience above, I did not sign any paperwork other than to say that I received information about 401K and COBRA. Epic's policy is to not get involved when DWD calls them about UI claims.

    I filed for UI and in my initial claim, I explained that Epic asked me to leave and the separation was employer-initiated. DWD called me before making the determination on my claim, and the agent I spoke with was very kind. She said that they see this happen often with Epic giving the ultimatum: quit or be fired. In their eyes, I did not quit, so I qualify for UI. To future employers, I technically quit.

    Side note...on the same day my TL asked me to quit, she came by my office in the afternoon to hand me a hand-written postcard congratulating me on my one-year raise (which was not insignificant). You really can't make this stuff up.

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    Replies
    1. Very interesting and helpful. I have a few questions:
      Do you mind if I ask role?
      Did the post-card thing happen after the talk?
      Did the TL make it sound like it was collective decision from TLs on your team or what were the reasons for the talk?

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  6. PSA: DO NOT undergo a probationary period at Epic. You must accept the Waiver of Probationary status to receive severance. Your work done in the Probation period will not save you because it will not even be considered: the decision has already been made. I worked like crazy my final months, made all my Performance Action Plan goals, completed projects with high success, and no shits were given on the decision date.

    It makes no sense that if you chose probation and work hard instead of coasting your final weeks, you lose severance. It makes complete sense that the Waiver of Probationary Status form does not include severance information if you elect to proceed with probation, because that would be a foregone conclusion on how the probation would end. It turns there is NO severance if terminated after Probation.

    Lesson: question everything in any written document forced upon you. There is such huge resistance to questioning your TL and so little time to make a decision that it is easy to fall prey.

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    Replies
    1. I'd like to add to that: Save everything written, and if you have any conversation with your TL, mentors, HR, etc about your performance, your pay, or your continued employment, you follow that conversation with an email repeating everything that was said. When there's a paper trail, power-tripping supervisors tend to be more reasonable.

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    2. When "the talk" happened and I was given the option to "give 150% and try to get back on track," I had long since figured out my days were numbered--I think they'd quit trying to hide the fact that they were setting me up to fail by that point. I kind of expected to feel my stomach bottom out but felt a massive relief instead. So I put on my most sincerely exhausted face and told my job saboteur, I mean, TL that I was sorry but I didn't think I had another 50% to give, so let's just make this easy.

      That was a truly great day.

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    3. @TheAdministrator, do you think that we should select the probationary period as opposed to the voluntary resignation? the first post in the blog appears to seem to say that, but comments here appear to lean towards not taking it.

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  7. I have mostly heard of the perspectives given in the comments about choosing a final date and working it out. Is the severance described in that agreement any different than the normal salary received for working out the final month?

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    1. The severance is an additional sum of money. I was given the "choice" of 2 weeks probation, or just resigning with my end date being the same date as the end of the 2 week probationary period. If I agreed to resign, I'd get paid for those 2 weeks, plus an additional 2 weeks of pay. If I tried to stick it out and basically work 24/7 for the probationary period, on that last day, I would have just been fired and sent home with no additional pay.

      So for the short answer, severance is an additional sum of money beyond what you get for working until whatever end date you agree to.

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  8. >I agree not to reapply for or seek employment with or at Epic.

    I always wondered why that clause existed.

    Until I got an email from an Epic recruiter a few days ago, saying I "could be a great addition" to the company and that they found my name in a "resume book" whatever that means. They wanted me to submit my resume and schedule a phone interview for the SAME position that I was fired/quit from.

    So, I'm guessing that clause exists to prevent people from getting free plane rides to Madison, since their screening process is so lax.

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  9. I'm confused here. So, if you are offered the option to leave or to do the probationary period, which should you choose?

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