The church laid me off after 34 years — shouldn’t I get severance?

Last July, after 34 years of employment and service to the church, I was told by the new pastor I was being terminated. I was told the parish could no longer afford to pay me. I’m 61, remain unemployed and in financial hardship. I was also a coach and director in their youth outreach volunteer program for over 20 years. Is there any chance that they are required to reward me with any severance payments?

I am so sorry to hear this, and I wish I had more encouraging news. Unless there was some written agreement or practice of providing severance, there is no obligation to provide any. And now, a year later, it is even more difficult to make the case. That said, there is no harm in trying. Your letter to me went into more detail about all that you have done for the church — what a wonderful testament to you and your character. Perhaps you can arrange a meeting with someone from the church who knows you well and would be willing to listen to your case. Is there a lawyer in the parish who might inquire on your behalf? Perhaps there’s a job at another parish, or even a different job in this parish if it has reopened. There are many possibilities to explore, and it’s worth trying.

I just landed a new job, and it’s entirely remote, so all my introductions, meetings and interactions will be virtual. What advice would you have to ensure a successful experience?

Make sure that you know when your camera and microphone are ON and OFF — please! I don’t want to be answering a different question in a future column about a massive Zoom faux pas. Seriously though, when you have been accustomed to working side-by-side with colleagues in an office your entire life, starting a new job remotely and permanently is definitely an adjustment. Here’s an important tip: While you fill your calendar with introductory Zoom meetings, establish another means for communication. Whether that’s Slack, text or another platform, communicate in ways that sync with the culture. Also, join employee resource groups and other programs that allow you to connect with employees across the company.

Gregory Giangrande has over 25 years of experience as a chief human resources executive and is dedicated to helping New Yorkers get back to work. E-mail your questions to [email protected]. Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande and at

Living | New York Post

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