Executive Employment Disputes
Seattle Executive Employment Disputes Attorneys
High-Level Legal Support in Bellevue
Seasoned executives bring years or even decades of experience and institutional knowledge to their employer’s firm. Executives deserve to be fairly compensated for their leadership and significant contributions, and while their benefits packages can often appear to be generous, companies will sometimes fail to honor the terms of their agreements.
If you are an executive-level employee and find yourself in a seemingly irreconcilable conflict with your employer, our team at Tomlinson Bomsztyk Russ can help. Our Seattle executive employment dispute attorneys can serve as your guide and advocate and are ready to work to ensure your company honors all its contractual obligations. Whether are you struggling to secure the compensation you were promised or are being unfairly restricted by a non-compete agreement, our firm has the knowledge, resources, and skills to deliver the results you need.
Get Help Navigating Executive Compensation Issues
When negotiating your initial compensation package during the recruitment process, your prospective employer may make all sorts of promises. Businesses regularly leverage a variety of financial incentives to attract top executive talent.
In addition to large base salaries, many firms will offer compensation tied to executive and overall company performance. These offerings are meant to incentivize executives to work hard and remain with the company long-term, thereby maximizing the value of their earnings. Examples include equity, which is a form of company stock. As the company’s value grows, so do the executive’s equity holdings. Businesses also sometimes issue restricted stock options (RSOs), which can only be sold after a vesting schedule has been completed.
Balancing Risk and a Potential Payoff
These types of executive payment structures come with certain risks, but the payoffs can be enormous. Unfortunately, some employers will hedge their bets when agreeing to a compensation package and consequently refuse to provide some or all of the promised financial incentives when it comes time to cash out. This is especially common when a particular payment structure generates far more executive compensation than the firm originally anticipated.
Your employer must honor your executive employment agreement, including all terms involving compensation and financial incentives. Our Seattle executive employment attorneys regularly assist executives across a myriad of industries with resolving these types of conflicts—which first includes negotiating favorable contracts to avoid future mistakes and misunderstandings. Do not undersell your value to your company and hire experienced legal representation to lead your negotiations.
We can review executive employment agreements and compensation packages with the aim of avoiding future conflicts. Our team can review your employment contract and identify potential problems or areas of concern. We can also help you understand the financial incentives being offered to you and help negotiate more favorable terms.
While executive compensation packages are often shaped to incentivize executives to remain with companies for long periods, there may come a time where you are looking to explore future opportunities or even retire. If your employer is experiencing financial difficulties or you are involved in a contentious dispute, you might also be prompted to involuntarily exit the company as part of a layoff or settlement.
Regardless of the reason for your departure, you will need to take steps to protect your compensation and future career options. If you are exiting voluntarily, you will need to be careful to avoid triggering any contractual clauses that might jeopardize otherwise available financial incentives. If you are leaving involuntarily, you will likely be offered some form of a severance package.
Accepting a severance package – which will typically include one or more forms of compensation – involves giving up certain rights. They can be particularly generous for employees at the executive level, and many high-level executive employment agreements require employers to offer severance packages when the employment relationship is terminated.
It is always advisable to have a legal professional review your severance agreement before signing it. Depending on the specifics of your employment agreement, your employer may be obligated to provide a certain amount of compensation or be prevented from including certain types of provisions. Remember that a severance agreement will generally restrict certain rights. Non-disparagement and non-disclosure clauses are common and are often enforceable once signed. We can help review and negotiate your severance agreement and work to verify that the corresponding package is fair and consistent with your expectations.
Many companies attempt to include non-compete agreements as part of executive employment contracts. This type of restrictive covenant agreement limits an executive’s job mobility and can prevent them from securing new employment opportunities. The purpose of a non-compete agreement is to both incentivize an executive to stay with a company and to prevent them from taking trade secrets and institutional knowledge to a competing firm.
As of 2020, Washington State introduced new legislation regarding non-compete agreements, and in certain cases, these noncompetition restrictions are not enforceable. Our Seattle executive employment disputes lawyers at Tomlinson Bomsztyk Russ can help determine the enforceability of a new or existing non-compete agreement.
Some employers may still attempt to impose or threaten litigation if you do not comply with an unenforceable non-compete agreement. We can help you handle these types of cases and work to ensure your rights are protected. If you are bound by a valid non-compete agreement and wish to legally nullify it, or reduce its impact, we can review the specifics of the contract and attempt to identify means of voiding it.