After putting in many years of hard work, a company downsizes, eliminating some positions. Because of that, an employer promises a severance package to an employee, which never comes to fruition. If that scenario sounds familiar, first know that you are not the only one that has had to fight an employer to get severance pay.

If the company you worked for promised a severance package but failed to deliver, you could have an excellent legal claim. Keep in mind that, usually, companies are under no obligation to pay severance, although many do. The best case is that you have a written contract. However, even an oral contract is legally binding – it’s just a little more challenging to prove.

Either a written or oral contract makes your employer contractually obligated to follow through on the promise it made. To successfully file a claim, you need to show that you performed your duties to your employer’s satisfaction as agreed in exchange for a severance package.

For help with this, you need to have an attorney working on your behalf. That individual will prove that you held up your end of the bargain and, now, your employer needs to do the same. In this case, if your employer either agreed to pay you a severance pay plan after learning that your department was downsizing or at the time of hiring, you negotiated for a Severance by Agreement.

Your attorney will first determine which type of contract you have and then investigate your performance. If you have letters, emails, or any other evidence showing that your work earned your employer’s satisfaction, you will need to give that to your attorney. Also, information about promotions, awards, and raises will all help support your claim.

If you worked for a decent company, pushing back to get the agreed severance package may not be that big of a deal. However, if your employer wants to play hardball for whatever reason, you have the right to have an attorney assist with the case. Depending on how dirty the company wants to be, you may settle for an acceptable amount out of court or end up filing a lawsuit.

For the latter, if you can show that not receiving the severance package caused you and your family hardship, you might be able to recoup additional money. Again, your attorney will take everything into account. During a consultation, he or she will go over the plan of action with you, including any potential obstacles that might arise.

Regardless of why your employer decided not to honor your severance pay, you need to fight back; after all, not only did you earn that money, but your employer agreed to pay it. Therefore, they should do the right thing by following through on the promise they made to you.

Although frustrating, allow your attorney to help you through the process. By getting evidence, you have a better chance of winning your case.