I've been working at a company for just 3 months. There are 2 issues:

  • I'm in sales and started with a good faith agreement that I'd make a certain % of commission on a territory they shared with me before I accepted the position. They reserved the right to make changes to it. I also joined with expectations of a specific reporting certain reporting structure. The company was acquired by a PE firm (before I started) and I joined at a time of a lot of reorganization. Now, there are indications that my reporting structure will definitely change, completely. I'm also concerned that my commission structure will change. I never received an official commission letter, so if they present me one that I don't like and I refuse to accept, do I have to quit or do they have to fire me? If they fire me, will I get severance? Remember I've only been here for 3 months.

  • Also, they have said they're going to ask everyone to sign a brand new employee handbook, which includes non-compete and non-solicitation clauses. If I refuse to sign, will they fire me? And, if so, will I be entitled to severance or not because I didn't want to comply with new company policy?

Note: I'm in Illinois.

I'm not trying to make a money grab with severance. I just feel that what was promised (never in writing, only in good faith) is totally different than what they're presenting to me now. I just left a good job to come to this firm and am sorely disappointed. I won't agree to unfavorable terms so if we have to part ways, so be it. I just want to know what my rights to severance are. Thank you in advance.

  • Promises regarding managers and reporting structure can never be guaranteed anyway, so you probably should not rely on that in your job decisions. – cdkMoose Apr 20 '18 at 19:18
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    Is there some reason that you would expect severance pay (i.e. you signed a contract that made some sort of promise regarding severance pay or the existing company has a severance pay policy that you would like to rely on)? In general, an American employer is never under any obligation for severance pay though some employers do choose to make such payments. – Justin Cave Apr 20 '18 at 19:47
  • Your employment agreement and/or employee manual probably spells out what circumstance (if any) make you eligible for severance, and we don't have access to that. However, after only 3 months of employment, I'd guess that you would not be eligible. – GreenMatt Apr 20 '18 at 20:25
  • Read any non-compete and non-solicitation clauses very carefully. Some companies want you to sign things that you shouldn't signs. In that case, don't sign. Better fired than having signed a contract that could strangle you. – gnasher729 Apr 20 '18 at 21:15

I am not a lawyer. Before taking any definite action you need to consult with one. But let me give you some general things I've learned, for the sake of pointing you in the right direction.

You are right in that in general if a company makes substantial significant changes to your conditions of employment, if you resign as a result of them you can sometimes be considered to have been dismissed. In that case theoretically you might be due severance, and might be eligible for unemployment benefits that you wouldn't be eligible for if you resigned. But there are some big 'maybes' there, and we have no way of knowing if it is true in your case.

I don't know the specifics for Illinois, but it's extremely rare that you would be legally due any severance payments after a term of employment of 3 months. You might even be still on probation, in which case you are almost certainly due nothing. The exception would be if you were on a fixed term contract with an early termination clause. It might be worth following up on this with a lawyer just on the question of unemployment benefits, if that's something you think you might need.

It's also hard to say if the job changes you are describing would be considered significant. If it is important to know this you should consult a lawyer.

For your other questions: "If I refuse to sign, will they fire me?". We have no way of knowing that. Only your employers can decide,

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