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Sometimes It Doesn't Pay to Stick Around After Layoffs

As for Teligent's incentive plan, which provides severance pay ranging from two weeks to one year, plus certain financial bonuses for top-tier employees, bankruptcy lawyers say it might seem unfair, but it's actually quite common for firms to dangle carrots in front of key workers so they'll stay to help the company through a rough transition.

While most of Teligent's remaining employees will receive two to four weeks' severance in the event of another layoff, a few executives will enjoy even bigger paychecks. The company's chief operating officer and its top in-house lawyer are eligible for a year's salary and a year's severance under the new plan.

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That only adds fuel to the fire for Maureen O'Connor, who began her tenure at Teligent as an office assistant before moving up through the ranks. O'Connor and a few other workers are consulting employment lawyers to see if they have valid claims against Teligent.

"The two rounds [of layoffs] before us got six weeks of severance and unused vacation time," O'Connor says. "We got a kick out the door."

Pedroarias says technology employees got a bad rap for job-hopping during the past few years.

"Employers during the good times wonder why there's no loyalty," he says. "Why should there be loyalty? It's just such a wrong way of doing business when one corporate executive's golden parachute could have supported 300 employees' severance."

Survey Says

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers-USA reports that its members enjoyed an 18 percent hike in their purchasing power over the past four years and a 6.5 percent increase in median base pay since 1999.

The group's survey of about 9,700 members showed times are still flush for many engineers working full time. The typical respondent is a male in his forties with an advanced degree and a significant amount of on-the-job experience.

The median income of the American engineers who took part in the study was $93,100 a year -- excluding stock options, pension-plan contributions, overtime and other add-ons. Two years ago, the IEEE says, that number was $82,000. For more information on the survey, visit www.ieeeusa.org.

The Week Ahead

A few noteworthy workplace events are on tap this week. San Francisco Bay-area organizers will host their first local pink-slip party at eCiti in Tysons Corner July 10. See www.pinkslipnova.com for more information. The next night, the Northern Virginia Technology Council and the Northern Virginia Regional Partnership will put on a free Information Technology Talent Fair for job seekers at the Center for Innovative Technology building in Herndon. You can register at www.nvtc.org.

Send tips, gripes and your impressions on punching the virtual time clock to Carrie Johnson at johnsonca@washpost.com.

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