Litigating Executive Compensation Disputes

Is there a more hot button topic in the world, just as a general principle, than compensation, especially of the executive kind? From Salary.com to the outrage of politicians over financial industry pay, the subject is never far from your internet browser. In fact, just for amusement’s sake, I just googled executive compensation, and the first page of results had no less than three links claiming to tell me what executives throughout the country earn.

Of more interest to me professionally than what executives earn, though, is what happens when they end up litigating disputes with their employers over their compensation. ERISA often gets dragged into such disputes, although there are an increasing number of judicial decisions – though still few – questioning whether individual agreements with executives to set compensation should fall within ERISA, rather than being handled as pure breach of contract cases under state law. The forum, venue, nature of defenses, potential damages, and strategy in such disputes can all be greatly affected by whether the dispute should be governed by ERISA or is instead simply an old fashioned state law dispute.

I will be talking about this and more next week when I address the details of litigating executive compensation disputes in this MCLE seminar. Two other excellent speakers, Marcia Wagner and Philip Gordon, will be discussing various aspects of crafting and negotiating executive compensation agreements – I will then weigh in on what happens when that work, as it sometimes does, leads to the parties suing each other.

You can find registration information for the seminar itself and for the webcast here.