I've worked for my company for just under 10 years and until about the last year I would say it has always been pleasant and all levels of management have been open. Over the last few years the company has been selling off key assets. In the next month to 3 months the company will close on the last asset in the region that I work in. I have been casually told by my supervisor that management's plan is to move me to another area which is basically an entry level position. This has been known for about 6 months or so.

There are rumors that have all been confirmed by a member of a member of upper management that I have a good relationship with that the balance of the assets that the company owns are in serious negotiations to be sold next year. Those rumors have been out for about a month or two. That deal wouldn't close until the end of 2015 if not sometime in 2016 so it seemed everybody had a year left. In the last week, additional rumors have surfaced that the board might decide to lay off all 9 people in my department in as little as 3 months.

The industry I work in is highly regulated and I don't think any of the regulatory agencies that would need to approve this deal are aware of the negotiations. There's nothing illegal or improper about the negotiations, I believe it is merely a tactic to increase the probability of acceptance to be as far along in the negotiations before releasing the news to the public. I think it's possible (maybe even probable) that the prospective buyer would walk away if the negotiations were to fall under the scrutiny of the public at this stage.

As a separate issue the company recently (about 2 months ago) went through a reorganization bankruptcy. Employees were, at the time, told that no one that the company does business with would be shorted. This included employees. We later found out that the board is going to have to make a new bonus plan, different from the one we had in place at the beginning of the year. The board has still not announced the structure/existence of a new bonus plan. Our bonuses are always/only paid at the end of the year. Some in the office think that this is just a formality but I think they're going to cut our bonus significantly. My basis for thinking that is simply that if the bankruptcy legally let them off the hook for our bonus and they're planning on laying us off anyway, then it wouldn't make financial sense to honor it.

Finally on to my questions, when the time comes that we're being laid off would it be appropriate to ask for a bigger severance than they offer me? I know the answer to that is yes but it is a step towards my real question. Can I dangle the prospect of me signing an NDA in front of them to make them agree to a bigger settlement? The implication, of course, is that if they don't agree that I'd go to the media or regulatory agencies about their deal which would bring scrutiny to their asset negotiations that they probably don't want. I could see how this would sound like blackmail so I'd probably prefer to have a lawyer walk this particular tight rope. As far as lawyers are concerned, would I want to retain a bankruptcy lawyer, an employment lawyer, or other for this?

  • Are you in the US? – daaxix Oct 31 '14 at 3:36
  • There's a weird sentence in your 4th paragraph: "told that no one that". Please edit and add your country tag as well. – user8036 Oct 31 '14 at 8:30
  • Signing an NDA when your are leaving? Weird, you sign NDAs when you accept a job. Signing an NDA when you are being laid off? I'm not a lawyer, but this sound total nonsense. – user8036 Oct 31 '14 at 8:33
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    "dangling the prospect" - you mean blackmail? – Raystafarian Oct 31 '14 at 15:13

The first thing you need to do is to find out what kind of lawyer you should be talking to.

Set up a free consultation with say an employment/labor lawyer, explain your case and listen to what the lawyer has to say. Either you hit the jackpot and you are speaking with the lawyer with the right specialty, or you'll have that lawyer to refer you to the right kind of lawyer.

Keep setting up free consultations until you find a lawyer who is of the right specialty for your needs and with whom you can work as a client. At that point, you are ready to explore the options available to you with that lawyer.

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