By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you have been laid off through no fault of your own, by law how much severance does an employer need to pay? Some have heard two weeks is required; others believe it’s one week of severance for every year of service.

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When Duke Energy announced plans to merge with Progress Energy last year, the two companies agreed that Progress CEO Bill Johnson would be the CEO of the combined company and signed him to a three year deal. But when the merger happened, Johnson was terminated from the position on the same day he took over.

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Good news: for his almost full day on the job, he received a severance of 44 million dollars. I want that guy’s agent.

But, if you were unlucky enough to be laid off without the million dollar guaranty, what is your right to collect severance?

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Many are shocked to learn that if you don’t have a contract, aren’t party to a collective bargaining agreement, and don’t have an employer with a severance policy – you’re not legally entitled to any severance pay at all. Your employer is allowed to kick you to the curb without giving you a nickel, forget 880 million nickels more than you earned.