Accomplished business leaders who occupy high-level corporate positions can encounter a wide array of employment law issues in the course of their tenures, issues that can significantly impact their incomes, livelihoods, and careers. At the negotiating table, in the boardroom, and in the courtroom, the attorneys at Outten & Golden regularly represent senior business leaders including:
- Chief Executive Officers (CEO)
- Chief Financial Officers (CFO)
- Chief Operating Officers (COO)
- Chief Marketing Officers (CMO)
- Chief Information Officers (CIO)
- Chief Technology Officers (CTO)
- Chief Regulatory Officers (CRO)
- Chief Compliance Officers (CCO)
- Chief Human Resources Officers (CHRO)
- General Counsel or Chief Legal Officers (CLO)
Regardless of whether these highly-compensated employees work in public corporations, privately-held companies, startups, or non-profits, we help them achieve the best possible resolution or outcome for each situation.
Additionally, Outten & Golden is particularly adept at representing expatriate (“expat”) executives, whether foreign-born employees working in the United States or U.S. citizens working overseas. In fact, our firm co-founded and co-heads The Lawyers International Network for Employees & Executives (LINEE): www.lineenetwork.org.
Employment Agreements for Officers & Executives
To attract top-talent, organizations have become increasingly creative in the offer letters, term sheets, and compensation and benefits packages they offer officers and other senior executives. Similarly, candidates for top positions often can exercise substantial leverage to secure employment contracts that reward performance, establish expectations, and ensure important protections.
Our attorneys have deep experience negotiating a variety of employment terms and conditions:
- Duties, responsibilities, and duration
- Salary, bonuses, and other incentives
- Deferred compensation (e.g., restricted stock units and stock options)
- Medical, dental, disability and life insurance benefits
- Pension and retirement benefits
- Directors’ and officers’ (D&O) liability insurance
- Expense reimbursement
- Travel perks
- Relocation benefits
- Confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements
- Non-competition and non-solicitation agreements
- Termination provisions (e.g., termination without cause, resignation for good reason, termination due to death or disability)
- Severance benefits
- Change-of-control and retention arrangements
- Arbitration clauses
Employment Separation & Termination
When employment relationships end, voluntarily or involuntarily, both employers and employees alike have rights and responsibilities they must honor. Whatever the context, our attorneys represent officers and senior business executives in employment transitions, paying special attention to severance and exit issues including:
- Salary and benefit continuation
- 401(k), defined benefit, and defined contribution plans
- Vesting of deferred compensation (e.g, restricted stock units, stock options, profit sharing contributions)
- Employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs)
- References and outplacement assistance
- Waiver and modification of restrictive covenants
- Non-disparagement provisions
- Releases and waivers
- Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) compliance
Separation discussions can take place amicably, but sometimes hard-fought negotiation or even formal action is necessary to compel employers to respect their contractual or statutory obligations. We can help you determine the most appropriate path, and then assist you in securing the best arrangement for you and your family.
Employment Litigation & Disputes
Obviously, disputes may arise between executives and their employers. Our lawyers have successfully represented corporate officers and executives in matters such as:
- Breach of employment
- Compensation disputes
- Equal Pay Act violations
- Discrimination (based on race, age, gender, disability, national origin, religion, or sexual orientation)
- Whistleblower retaliation
- Wrongful discharge
Of course, every effort should be made to resolve such disputes through discussions and negotiations; sometimes, mediation (a form of facilitated negotiation) can be helpful. When such measures fail or are futile, the parties may end up in in administrative proceedings or in arbitration or court litigation. (Many employment agreements provide for arbitration of disputes under the agreement.) Our lawyers have substantial experience helping clients resolve disputes by means of effective advocacy in negotiations and mediations, as well as representing them in administrative proceedings, arbitration hearings, and court litigation (including appellate/review proceedings) before judges, juries, and arbitrators.
These kinds of disputes often involve substantial economic and noneconomic damages, making the selection of a skilled and capable attorney even more important. Whether your situation requires aggressive litigation or discreet negotiation, we can help you obtain the most favorable result.
Outten & Golden – Employment Lawyers for Officers & Executives
If you are employed in a C-suite or senior executive job, don’t take risks addressing an employment agreement, dispute, or separation issue on your own. Outten & Golden has offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, DC – please contact us today by calling any of the locations (see bottom of page for phone numbers) or using our online intake form.