Executive Wrongful Termination
Executives accept immense risk and responsibility when agreeing to lead and inspire organizations. In return, they earn robust compensation packages. So in the event of termination of the employment relationship, it’s critical to fully understand your legal rights, including the terms of all employment-related agreements
Even though Tennessee is an “at-will” employment state (one of 49 in the U.S.), this is not a get-out-of-court-free card for employers. To the contrary, dozens of exceptions exist to the at-will employment doctrine.
If you believe you have been unlawfully terminated, contact our team of Nashville-based employment lawyers right away.Executive Level Wrongful Termination Claims
Executive-level employees typically sign written employment agreements prior to commencing their term. These may include an employment contract detailing the rights, responsibilities, and duties of the parties, an equity compensation agreement detailing how equity is earned (and the vesting schedule), or an executive confidentiality agreement. More than other employees, executive legal claims often arise out of contract law, such as an employer alleging the executive was terminated “for cause,” which relieves the company of honoring severance terms.
In addition, executives in Tennessee may have the following legal claims:
- Terminated to avoid paying equity or bonuses. Employers cannot fire an executive to avoid paying contractual obligations. Every contract in Tennessee has an implied duty of good faith and fair dealing. Such employer actions may violate this duty.
- Terminated based on a legally protected characteristic. Federal and Tennessee law prohibit employers from firing employees based on: age (40 and up), race, color, gender identity, sexual orientation, genetic information, national origin, religion, pregnancy, sex, disability, and military or veteran status.
- False or deceptive representations in procuring employment. Employers cannot make false or deceptive statements to prospective employees to lure them into accepting a position and moving to Tennessee. This type of bait and switch violation occurs when the compensation or character of the position is materially different than what the executive was led to believe before accepting the position and moving to Tennessee.
- Terminated due to an alleged violation of a restrictive covenant agreement. Although sometimes enforceable, non-compete agreements are strictly construed against employers under Tennessee law.
Executive-level wrongful termination claims are legally complicated, and the stakes are high. Not only can it be financially devastating, but your reputation and future employment opportunities may be impacted as well. An experienced executive-level wrongful termination attorney can assess your case and determine whether you have viable legal claims.
Keep in mind that many legal claims have short deadlines in which you must take action to preserve your rights. For example, most federal discrimination claims have a 300-day deadline in Tennessee starting from when the discriminatory actions occurred (note that this deadline is shortened to 180 days in other states).Types of Damages in Executive Level Wrongful Termination Cases
The types of damages available varies depending on the nature of the legal claims. For instance, contractual and statutory claims can provide for drastically different types of damages. That said, common damages in executive-level wrongful termination cases may include:
- Lost base salary and benefits
- Unpaid bonuses
- Unpaid equity or replacement of lost equity, e.g., ISOs, non-quals, restrictive stock or RSUs
- Reimbursement for moving and related expenses
- Compensatory damages (for emotional pain and suffering)
- Punitive damages (to punish and deter similar legal violations)
- Legal fees and court costs (only for some claims)
Courts may also grant non-monetary relief such as job reinstatement, an injunction to prevent future violations of the plaintiff’s legal rights, or additional training and to re-draft disciplinary and termination policies.Why Choose Rickard Masker, PLC?
- Recognized. Highly rated and peer reviewed by Super Lawyers® and Best Lawyers® for outstanding work in employment litigation. We have worked for some of the best law firms in the country and deliver big firm talent with small firm service.
- Results. We have recovered millions in damages for our clients.
- Highly Selective, Low Volume. With our firm, you are one of a select few clients who receives honest, transparent, and highly responsive representation. Do not become another file number at a high-volume firm. If it takes more than a few days to speak with a lawyer, you know it’s a high-volume law firm.
Our team of highly skilled experienced employment lawyers in Nashville can discuss your matter to determine if you have any viable legal claims against your former employer. To contact an executive-level employment lawyer, please call our office at the number above or complete our online contact form.