About 750 current and former Nortel employees packed two information sessions Monday night to learn about their legal rights now that the company has filed for bankruptcy protection and has opted to withhold severance pay from recently laid off workers.

"As a group, we hope to convince Mike Zafirovski and the Nortel board to reverse their decision to not pay severances to those people who have signed severance agreements," said Paula Klein of the Laid Off Employees Committee.

Lawyers from Nelligan, O'Brien & Payne discussed the issue at Monday night's meeting and offered advice to those facing layoffs.

Still, recently laid off employees say they're worried about how they'll pay their bills without the severance pay.

"I have two kids going to university and I have to pay their tuition, and I have to pay their boarding, I have to pay everything. But with all my money gone, at this point, I don't know," said one former worker.

The decision to withhold severance payments affects hundreds of former employees in Ottawa and elsewhere. It will also affect anyone else who is laid off as a result of the company's restructuring efforts.