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Executive Compensation

Beginning and ending a relationship with an employer can be a fraught process, and people often feel out-gunned by their employers, who may have retained large law firms or have a staff of in-house counsel to represent them. At Beranbaum Menken, we help even the playing field for our clients. We have been advising individuals on executive compensation, severance agreements, and employment contracts for decades, and can give sound advice on protecting your rights to bonuses, stock options, commissions, deferred compensation, health and disability insurance and non-compete and non-solicitation issues.

We represent executives in the financial, telecommunications, advertising, healthcare, insurance, fashion and publishing industries, as well as other professionals in the medical, dental and legal fields.

Counseling and negotiating on behalf of recently terminated executives is a large part of our firm's work and, with our combined 75 years of experience, we will formulate a strategy to help leverage your legal position to obtain a favorable severance package.

We know the issues and we know how to negotiate, but we don’t shy away from litigation or arbitration when it is necessary to protect our clients’ rights, and our track record speaks for itself.

Restrictive Covenants: Non-Compete and Non-Solicit Agreements

Employers frequently require executives and professionals to enter into non-compete and/or non-solicit agreements to restrict their future business opportunities. If legally enforceable, non-compete agreements identify certain entities that employees must refrain from working for after their current employment relationship ends. Non-solicit agreements identify certain clients, customers or investors that employees are prohibited from soliciting or contacting for business purposes after their current employment relationship ends. Non-solicit agreements often prevent employees from contacting their former colleagues to ask them to come work for or with them at their new business. These agreements can be complicated and, if ignored or taken lightly, can handicap employees in the future. 

At Beranbaum Menken, we have substantial experience counseling our clients concerning non-compete and non-solicit agreements. It is critical to obtain advice before you enter into such agreements, during your employment before moving to another job, and after your employment has terminated. Of course, it is critical that former employees being threatened with litigation for supposedly violating such agreements obtain experienced counsel.  

The attorneys at Beranbaum Menken will review the agreement, assess its enforceability and strategize with you to decide the most prudent course of action. Defenses can be raised that may decrease or eliminate the restriction.  If necessary, we will vigorously represent you in court.

Representative client engagements include the following:

  • Provided advice and commenced an action seeking an injunction and damages on behalf of a health care executive who had signed an over broad non-compete agreement upon his hire.
  • Counseled physician who had signed a non-compete and non-solicit prior to his move from one medical partnership to another.
  • Counseled and defended a web based advertising executive who was seeking to move to a new position working for another company in the same industry.
  • Represented a sales and marketing executive seeking to solicit investors she had established relationships with prior to working at the hedge fund she was leaving.

If you are being asked to sign a non-solicit or non-compete agreement, if you have questions about an agreement you’ve already signed, or if you are being threatened with litigation for allegedly breaching such an agreement, contact us to schedule a consultation.

Severance Negotiations and Litigation

Beranbaum Menken has extensive experience in advising and representing executives and other professionals in negotiating severance agreements, as well as in litigation and arbitration resulting from termination of employment. Involuntary terminations are unpleasant, but whether you have a contract or not, and most executives do not, a seasoned attorney can help you negotiate a fair severance agreement.

With our years of experience negotiating severance agreements, we guide you through each of the negotiation steps from the initial meeting, where we educate you about the process and ascertain your needs, to research and drafting a demand letter, to finally negotiating and possibly litigating or arbitrating. 

The goal of a successful severance negotiating is to protect our client’s financial welfare and solidify their future job prospects. Although varied and complex, some of the issues that are typically resolved during severance negotiations are:

  • How much severance or compensation will I receive? Is it taxed and, if so, how?  Will it be paid over time or in a lump sum? Will I receive my bonus for the part of the year that I worked?
  • Will I also receive continued benefits, such as paid health insurance?  Or, will my former employer reimburse me for my COBRA payments?
  • What will happen to my vested and unvested stock options? Can I continue on my former employer’s payroll so I can obtain my unvested stock options?
  • Am I still bound by the non-compete and non-solicit agreement I signed while I was still employed by my former employer?  If I did not sign a non-compete and non-solicit agreement, can my former employer include these specific provisions in a severance agreement?
  • How do I explain the circumstances surrounding my termination to prospective employers? What will my former employer say to prospective employers when it investigates and calls seeking a reference?
  • Can I take samples of my work from my former employer to show prospective employers to help me obtain a new job?

Of course, if severance negotiations do not result in an acceptable package, and you have a valid legal claim, the attorneys at Beranbaum Menken will discuss your options including the commencement of a lawsuit or an arbitration.

If you are grappling with a severance package, or the lack thereof, contact us to schedule a consultation.

Employment Contracts

Although most executives enter an employment relationship hoping for a long and mutually rewarding relationship with their new business, a prudent executive needs to make sure to protect their rights. Beranbaum Menken attorneys can help identify the relevant issues that should be negotiated and embodied in a written employment contract.  Then, either in a behind-the-scenes support role or in one-on-one negotiations with your prospective employer’s legal representative, we make sure you get what you need.

Some of the major issues that should be addressed in executive employment contracts are:

  • Salary, bonus and other cash compensation;
  • Terms of stock options, restricted stock and other equity awards, including the vesting of such awards;
  • Parameters of any non-compete or non-solicitation covenants that may restrict or limit your ability to join a competitor or contact clients or employees if/when your employment is terminated;
  • Circumstances in which your employer can terminate your employment “for cause” and when you can resign for “good reason;”
  • Responsibilities, if any, that you may have upon the termination of your employment;
  • Extent and limitation of your job responsibilities and duties;
  • Circumstances giving rise to severance payments and benefits and the terms of such severance packages; and
  • Post-employment remedies (i.e., arbitration and mediation requirements).

We at Beranbaum Menken have found that marketable executives have more negotiating power and influence then they might expect, and can benefit from having savvy and seasoned counsel represent their interests.

In these economically challenging times, where employers frequently resist paying bonuses to terminated or departing employees, it is critical to have an experienced, skilled attorney both to help you negotiate the terms of your employment and to help you protect your contractual rights should your employment end.

If you are considering negotiating a contract with a new employer, or feel that the contract you had with a current or previous employer is being violated, contact us for a consultation or read our Frequently Asked Questions about Executive Contracts.