How Many Months of Severance?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 2 2011 8:25 AM

How Many Months of Severance?

Rutenberg, Zeleny, and McIntyre break the news on the mystery number in the Cain settlements story: The size of the payout to a woman who accused Cain of sexual harrassment. According to the reporters, The National Restaurant Association gave "$35,000 — a year’s salary — in severance pay" to the woman.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

The problem for Cain? That wasn't what he'd been saying. This is from his air-clearer with Greta Van Susteren, when he described what his general counsel told him about a complaint from a woman in the NRA's "communications department."

CAIN: He said, The good news is because there was no basis for this, we ended up settling for what would have been a termination settlement, quite frankly, in terms of...
VAN SUSTEREN: And what would that be, about?
CAIN: Maybe three months' salary or something like that, just vaguely trying to recall it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is that a normal...
CAIN: Yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: When you leave the restaurant association, you get three months?
CAIN: Depending on how long you have been there. It's based upon how many years you've been there. So I don't remember the -- it might have been two months. I don't remember the exact number, but I do remember my general counsel saying, The good news is, we didn't pay all of this money that was being demanded. It really worked out to what we probably would have been able to give her if she had resigned because for cause.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why didn't she get that anyway? I mean, why didn't she get the settlement and the resignation or severance?
CAIN: She would have gotten the severance, based upon what I recall the conditions under which she left. So we -- she ended up getting what she would have gotten if she had just said, I want to leave and I would like to negotiate a severance agreement. That's probably as far as we would have gone. But I can't guarantee that it was two months or three months. I just know it was well within the range of what we would do if we had an amicable separation between the association and an employee.

Three months would be a normal severance. A full year's salary suggests at least that the counsel gave quite a bit away. This may be a good time to share the tips that Joel P. Bennett, the attorney for one of Cain's accusors, shared with The Georgetown Dish.

Be fair and pleasant to all employees but not overly familiar to avoid sexual harassment claims
Do not engage in sexual banter or jokes. Do not engage in physical contact with employees. If you have multiple employees, have a written sexual harassment policy and a policy for filing complaints. Give each employee a copy of your policy and get a written receipt for the policy.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



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