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Archive for the category “Articles by Others: by others at my Firm”

When You Should Accept an Early Retirement Offer

The days of working 25 or more years for the same employer are long gone. Yet many employees cling to the belief that they will have that option until they reach retirement age.  According to Money Magazine (Jan/Feb 2019) companies in 2017 offered 5,000 early retirement and buyout offers. That figure rose dramatically in 2018 when companies announced plans to
cut 46,100 jobs due to voluntary severance, which includes buyouts and early retirement offers.

Buyouts are generally offered to employees age 55 or older, who have spent a decade or more at their companies, but this can vary. It is a good idea never to ignore a buyout offer, because employees who don’t accept an optional buyout may find themselves on a layoff list a year or so later, without any buyout offer included.

So, if an offer comes your way, consider it seriously. Considerations you should take into account are:

  • Will you have the funds to support yourself without a steady paycheck? Even if you have
    a 401k, by invading it early prior to age 59 1/2 you will incur a 10% early withdrawal
    penalty for each withdrawal.
  • Will you have to start collecting Social Security retirement benefits at an earlier age than
    the optimum (70)? Earlier collection could reduce your lifetime benefits by 25%. These
    benefits generally replace only 40% of an average worker’s income.
  • Will you be required to buy individual or family health insurance to replace your company-provided or subsidized insurance? Will your income be too high to qualify for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act? Also, premiums and deductibles are likely to rise each year. Some buyouts do include healthcare coverage. Or, you may be able to negotiate a longer period of coverage if you feel you have valid negotiating grounds, such as being the victim of some type of discrimination.
  • Have you correctly estimated the amount of money you will need in retirement? Retirees
    can generally withdraw 4% of their diversified portfolio annually to pay for their
    expenses, and reasonably expect to have enough to last 30 years. The amount of savings
    should be 25 times your annual spending amount. So if you need $60,000 a year to live
    on, plus your Social Security retirement benefits, you will need a $1.5 million diversified
    portfolio to take out 4% a year.
  • Would you consider taking another job, shifting into work you find more rewarding, or
    starting your own business? In these cases, accepting a buyout is a good opportunity to
    retool.

Bear in mind that if you accept a buyout or a severance package your employer may ask you to waive any legal rights you have currently and into the future.

If you want to consider accepting a buyout or a severance package, talking to a knowledgeable employment lawyer can bring clarity to the situation and assist you in making this important decision that greatly impacts your future. The Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C. brings 45 years of experience to the legal advice it provides. We may be contacted at 215.563.7776 or at frc@fayerivacohen.com.

By Faye Riva Cohen, Esquire and originally published in PBA Labor & Employment Law Section E-Newsletter Fall 2019 edition and can be found here.

Layoffs and Mergers and Consolidations and Acquisitions … Oh My!

In recent months, businesses and institutions in the Philadelphia area have experienced a number of closures, mergers, consolidations and acquisitions that will be devastating to the greater geographic area, and have or will result in major layoffs of skilled employees and elimination of future jobs.

Here are just a few examples:

  • The owner of Hahnemann University Hospital, in existence for 171 years, announced that it would be declaring bankruptcy and closing;
  • Drexel University, announced that about 40% of its physicians and clinical staff of its medical college will lose their jobs in the wake of the closure of Hahnemann University Hospital;
  • Philadelphia Energy Solutions announced that it was closing its South Philadelphia oil refinery due to a series of explosions and a catastrophic fire, and laying off more than 1,000 employees;
  • WSFS Financial Corp. acquired Beneficial Bank, founded in 1853, with 58 locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and is rebranding as WSFS Bank.

It is no wonder that employees are justified in feeling insecure. Mere months after the good economic news that the unemployment rate has dropped significantly, and that employees now have their choice of jobs, salaries and benefits, comes news of major layoffs, mergers, consolidations, acquisitions and business failures.

In addition to the economic impact of such upsetting news, there is the devastating personal impact on the lives of employees and their families, which may result in the permanent loss of long-term jobs and careers, having to accept lower income jobs or shift into gig-economy jobs, or being required to leave the area or downsize their lifestyles.

Having represented thousands of employees throughout my career, the following are my recommendations to employees in order to protect themselves in view of major layoffs or terminations, as no one is indispensable in our current marketplace.

  • Employers prefer it when their workforce is collegial, respectful of each other and aligned behind their company culture, vision and mission. While employers may have “open door policies,” workplace policies outlined in handbooks or online, social media policies and staff human resource departments, I suggest that employees think long and hard about making a complaint and what they hope to accomplish by making the complaint. Complaints about co-workers, getting involved in co-workers’ issues that are not directly related to the employee making the complaint, or disagreeing with managers and supervisors, can often set off an investigatory process, and that process can boomerang, at the expense of the complaining party.
  • The employees making these complaints generally have the burden of proving them, and that often means hiring a lawyer to assist with presenting these complaints. The complaints also mean that the employer must spend time and resources investigating the complaint, and they risk making a decision that may adversely affect them in the long run. The person who is making the complaint and the person complained about have equal rights, so if the person complained about is disciplined or terminated, that person may allege the employer acted wrongfully and the employer will have to defend themselves, costing them more time and money.
  • An employee should consult a lawyer if they are going to need extended Family Medical Leave Act time or they wish to make a claim for short term disability, long-term disability or workers’ compensation. These leave requests and policies are difficult to navigate and often conflict with each other. They can also result in terminations if they are not handled correctly and the specific legal and company requirements to make these leave claims are not followed. Also, employees have to be mindful that recommendations from their doctors do not necessarily control their employers. Employers are not required to provide indefinite leave, or hold an employee’s job open, simply because a doctor does not release an employee to return to work.
  • A lawyer should be consulted as soon as an employee has been given a performance improvement plan (PIP). Few employees survive PIPs and being given a PIP is often a good clue that an employer is seeking to find a reason to terminate an employee. It is important that a PIP is followed by the employer, but even an employee’s best efforts to meet the terms of the PIP may not result in keeping their job. A PIP is also a good opportunity for an attorney to attempt to negotiate a severance package for an employee, as an employer may be interested in offering such a package if the employee voluntarily agrees to leave.
  • If an employee belongs to a union it is still a good idea to consult an independent lawyer. An employee rarely interacts with a union lawyer except for a short time at some later point in a legal process, and that point may be far down the road from when a lawyer should have been consulted. Union lawyers also represent their union, and may have conflicts in trying to divide their representation among a number of union members who have similar issues. Also, not every union represents its members for discrimination complaints and disability issues, so it is important that employees make certain that they meet the often stringent filing requirements involved in these matters.

If an employee has doubts about what is happening in their workplace or with their position, or they have received a performance improvement plan, they should consult a lawyer and not wait until they have been disciplined or terminated. Talking to a knowledgeable employment lawyer can bring clarity to the situation and assist them in how to address their problems with the least risk to themselves.

By Faye Riva Cohen, Esquire and published on October 28, 2019 in The Legal Intelligencer and can be found here.

Can You See the Light?!

Here is an article by Adam S. Bernick, Esquire who is of counsel with my firm.  This article was originally published in Upon Further Review on January 22, 2015, and can be seen here.

Clarity Brought to Durable Powers of Attorney

Here is an article by Adam S. Bernick, Esquire who is of counsel with my firm.  This article was originally published in Upon Further Review on December 16, 2014, and can be seen here.

McCutcheon v. FEC: The Effect on Campaign Finance

Here is an article by Lane J. Schiff, Esquire who is a former associate at my firm.  This article was originally published in Upon Further Review on April 16, 2014, and can be seen here.

Inheriting Digital Assets

Here is an article by Adam S. Bernick, Esquire who is of counsel with my firm.  This article was originally published in Upon Further Review on April 3, 2013, and can be seen here.

Movin’ on Up?

Here is an article by Adam S. Bernick, Esquire who is of counsel with my firm.  This article was originally published in Upon Further Review on December 18, 2012, and can be seen here.

No I.D.? No Problem – Judge Blocks Pennsylvania Voter I.D. Law

Here is an article by Theodore Y. Choi, Esquire who is a former associate at my firm.  This article was originally published in Upon Further Review on October 24, 2012, and can be seen here.

Supreme Court Spotlight: Obamacare – Victory or Defeat?

Here is an article, by Theodore Y. Choi, Esquire who is a former associate at my firm.  This article can be found on my website here and was originally published in Upon Further Review on July 18, 2012, and can be seen here.

Social Media Sites “Likes” New Law’s Status

Here is an article, by Theodore Y. Choi, Esquire who is a former associate at my firm.  This article can be found on my website here and was originally published in Upon Further Review on January 11, 2012, and can be seen here.

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