Nothing is Forever | Texas Law and Considerations for Severance Pay and Agreements

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Cory D. Halliburton

Cory D. Halliburton



Cory Halliburton serves as general counsel and business adviser to a nationwide nonprofit / tax-exempt client base, as well as for multi-state professional service companies. He is a results-oriented attorney, with executive-level strategy and an understanding of the intersection of law and business judgment. With a practical upbringing, he pushes for process-driven results in internal governance, strategy and compliance with employment law, and complex or unique contracts and business relationships.

He dedicated the first ten years of his practice to mainly commercial litigation matters in West Texas and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. During that experience, Mr. Halliburton transitioned his practice to a more general counsel role, with an emphasis on nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations, advising those organizations through formation, dissolution, litigation, governance, leadership succession, employment law, contracts, intellectual property, tax exemption issues, policy creation, mergers and other. He has served as borrower’s counsel for tax-exempt bond and loan transactions near $100 million aggregate; some with complex pre-issue construction, debt payoff and other debt financing challenges.

Mr. Halliburton also serves as outside legal and business advisor for executive professionals in multi-state engineering firms, with a focus on drafting and counsel on significant service agreements, employment law matters, and protection of trade secrets.

All employment relationships end. That’s a fact.

Sometimes, the employer decides to offer a severance package to the employee-to-be-separated. Severance agreements generally give the employer and employee a clean and final break, in addition to other mutual benefits. Under Texas law, severance pay is not required, unless a written agreement or policy requires it. See Tex. Labor Code § 61.001(7) (defining “wages”), § 207.049 (defining “severance pay”); 40 Tex. Admin. Code § 821.25(c). If severance terms are desired or received, those terms should be carefully evaluated by the employer and employee.

I primarily represent the employer side of the separation/severance ledger, but I also represent executives in their review and negotiation of severance transactions. That “double-agent” practice allows a perspective that is unique and helpful in counsel, whichever side of the severance transaction I may find myself.

Some severance terms are more complicated than others, but in every instance the devil is in the details. Having managed hundreds of severance situations, I understand and appreciate the various push points and considerations involved on both sides of the ledger – amount and timing of payments or other financial benefits, return of employer property and information, non-compete restrictions, confidentiality, non-disparagement, etc. etc. etc.

The passage of time generally cures ire that may exist between employer and the separated employee. But, placing certain items in binding contractual terms can help the “healing” and protect employer and employee interests.

If you or your employer company wants strategy on severance agreement terms, don’t hesitate to contact me.