Severance Fears at Countrywide

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Employees of Countrywide Financial may soon be on the receiving end of "take-it-or-leave-it" discussions on new roles as Bank of America begins to absorb the troubled mortgage company.

The New York Post says B of A will begin discussing employees' new responsibilities this week, and many senior employees believe they'll be offered "inferior positions with big pay cuts." The idea, the newspaper says, is to "force them to quit and therefore forgo severance."

The bank's acquisition of Countrywide closed on July 1.

According to a plan posted on its internal Web site, B of A can decide whether it wants to provide severance pay to employees who turn down new positions, despite any shortcomings the jobs may have. The plan says the bank "would consider" severance in cases where an employee has to relocate or has their compensation cut at least 20 percent for higher level employees, or 10 percent for lower level workers.

At least one Countrywide executive has retained an employment lawyer, the Post says.

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