The Inbox, Fourth of July in the Snobby City Edition
Here at Suits-by-Suits Headquarters in Washington, D.C. we’re all smarting from having our town named one of America’s snobbiest cities. Although we’re not all snobby by geography: one of our editors, P. Andrew Torrez, is in fact based in a wonderful place called Charm City.
But we’re not going to be mad for long, because it’s the week we celebrate the Declaration of Independence. As Americans, we revere this document that sets out our basic freedoms and lays the foundation for our nation. And, as lawyers, we’re proud that its author Thomas Jefferson, one of our own breed, did such a poetic job of setting forth his case with clarity and brevity. So, we’ll try to borrow some of his best lines in the Declaration for this week’s Inbox, where we highlight the interesting things that have come over the transom:
- “He has …sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.” There’s always much eating of substance – and networking – at Rasika in D.C.’s West End. (Indeed, the article that calls D.C. “snobby” uses Rasika’s clientele as evidence of snobbiness). Our friends at the Blog of Legal Times wrote this interesting article about how Rasika is suing its former executive chef for the return of some $30,000 the restaurant spent in immigration-related fees; it also alleges the chef used confidential business information to get a new job. We’ll watch this one.
- “Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.” We’ve written before about the heated dispute between Don Marsh, former CEO of Marsh Supermarkets, and the grocery store chain. Mr. Marsh was found liable in February to the company for $2.2 million in expense reimbursements and other items he wasn’t entitled to. Now, in a separate dispute over $2 million in severance Mr. Marsh claims he is due, Mr. Marsh says his company’s arguments for not paying the remaining severance are “hogwash,” “flip-flopping,” and “simply wrong.” Cleanup on Aisle 5…
- “…they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights:” Religion and employment together is a constant and volatile source of friction, and this week is no different. The EEOC, responding to complaints from Liberty Institute, a group that purports to defend religious freedom, has reversed its dismissal of teacher Walt Tutka’s claim that he was illegally terminated. Tutka was fired by a New Jersey school district after giving his pocket Bible to a student who asked about a biblical quote; he also alleges his firing was based, in part, on his membership in Gideons International, the Bible-distributing group.
- “For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world”: Or, at least, cutting a company off from its clients. That is what specialty equipment maker Daily Instruments says its former sales manager, Erik Heidt, tried to do when he copied client profiles, order lists, and other information just before going to work for a Daily Instruments competitor. In its suit against Heidt, Daily says such conduct violates Heidt’s employment agreement.
- “He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.” Or lack of salary: Mark Pincus, the founder and CEO of Zynga, will continue to get just $1 in compensation in his new role as “Chief Product Officer;” according to Fortune magazine, he won’t get a change-in-control severance payment or increase in his equity stake as former Microsoft executive Don Mattrick becomes CEO.
- “They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity:” Company executives and company boards, perhaps, as they continue to provide large golden parachutes in the face of public opposition – at least according to this New York Times story about a University of Michigan study, analyzed here. We take no position on whether such payments reflect what the study calls an “empathy gap” between companies and stakeholders, but suggest it’s a good practice for companies to consider the public appearance of large golden parachutes when they contemplate them.