Here at Suits by Suits, we are thankful that the news about executive-employer disputes keeps flowing like gravy. This past month, we focused a lot of attention on non-compete agreements, many of which met the same fate as an unpardoned turkey. On a day as cold as chilled cranberry sauce, we sent a live correspondent to cover the oral argument in Lawson v. FMR LLC, in which the Supreme Court will decide whether employees of privately-held contractors of public companies have viable Sarbanes-Oxley claims. Finally, as per our holiday tradition, we recapped the history of Thanksgiving, in a post as entertaining as the most memorable Cowboys loss.
If you are interested in more information about legal issues involving executives and their employers, on December 10, 2013, Zuckerman Spaeder LLP partners and Suits by Suits contributing editors Ellen D. Marcus and Jason M. Knott will present a webinar titled “Whistleblower Watch: Big Issues in the Latest Whistleblower Cases Under Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley, and the Internal Revenue Code.” In the session, Ms. Marcus and Mr. Knott will discuss the basics of these whistleblower and anti-retaliation provisions and address new developments in the law, including the Sarbanes-Oxley case currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. To register, click here.
Congress is about to adjourn for its summer recess and some say it’s been somewhat inactive recently. But some blocks west of Capitol Hill at Suits by Suits Global Headquarters, we’ve been busy following many significant developments involving employers and executives, including these stories:
P.S.—While we may not find fame and fortune as legal bloggers, there is glory to be had in the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 list. If you enjoy reading Suits by Suits, please consider nominating us for the Blawg 100 by Friday, August 9. It will only take a few minutes.
A busy month that swung us from cold to sweltering, May – the first anniversary of Suits by Suits, by the way - saw no letup in news about Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblowers, and the First Amendment rights of public employees. If that’s not exciting enough for you, we also wrote about the Koch brothers, kidnapping, venue, and the history of Memorial Day (although not in the same post). Give some of these a read:
April showers bring May flowers, which, as the old joke goes, usually bring these. At Suits by Suits, however, April brought a mix of interesting stories involving non-compete agreements, the mechanics of employment contracts, and all sorts of other topics:
For us here in the greater Baltimore/Washington metropolitan area, March was true to form – or at least, the Farmer’s Almanac – and came in like a lion (with city-closing snow and everything!) but has gone out like a lamb, as today is beautifully sunny with highs in the mid-60s.
As the Farmer’s Almanac tells us, that saying was rooted in the ancient belief that weather would seek a balance, and that good events would cancel out bad ones. That sense of balance held true for your Suits by Suits editors this month as well, as Ellen Marcus documented the unique ability of shareholders to protest “golden parachutes” for companies emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy – as contrasted with their general inability to do much else. Bill Schreiner explained how the average executive can protect herself from incurring certain legal expenses through directors & officers’ (“D&O”) insurance policies, while noting the limits of those D&O policies especially in high-profile cases like former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky. Andrew Torrez continued to document the push-and-pull in the legislative arena over whether and to what extent courts should uphold covenants not to compete contained in employment contracts, and warned Gov. Deval Patrick that the proposed new law in Massachusetts may not do what he expects it to do. And Jason Knott warned us that only 2% of Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblowers succeed on their claims, while walking us through a comprehensive recent decision by the Second Circuit that maps out how future whistleblowers can prove the elements necessary to assert their cases.
A full list of all of our articles from March follows. And remember, Suits by Suits is now on Twitter – and that’s no April Fools!
Now that Suits by Suits is on Twitter, you and your friends can follow us here to get up-to-the-minute Suits by Suits updates. If you missed us last month, check out Suits by Suits’ posts, inspired by current events, on legal issues affecting companies and high-level employees:
So much for starting the year off slowly! In the areas we track – primarily disputes and issues between companies and their executives, but also anything that can impact those employment relationships – a lot happened in the first month of 2013. We wrote about it – because while most of the country was in a deep freeze, here at SuitsbySuits headquarters in Washington, we enjoyed an unusually warm January and so were able to keep our fingers warm enough to type (no comment on our Tampa colleagues who bask in comparative warmth year round).
The boundaries and mechanics of litigation and arbitration between executives gave rise to some thoughtful commentary on recent cases from our colleagues John Connolly and Adam Fotiades, which we’ve captured below in case you missed them. We also looked at covenants not to compete, discovery gone awry, perpetual battles over social media and religion in the workplace, and – remember back to the holidays? – potential claims Bob Cratchit might have had against Ebenezer Scrooge under federal law:
Tour De Fraud - When Finally Settling Your Dispute May Not Be Finally Settling Your Dispute (Ellen D. Marcus, January 30, 2013)
In November, Suits by Suits explored a number of developments that are relevant to high-level employees and their companies – including the just-released report on awards made to whistleblowers under Dodd-Frank, a ruling from the Virginia Supreme Court that managers may be personally liable for the wrongful termination of an employee, a First Circuit decision that Starbucks cannot make its baristas share tips with their supervisors, and the court-approved termination of an employee who mooned his bosses. We also looked at how exit fees for the Atlantic Coast Conference are like liquidated damages in employment agreements, the dangers of waiving contractual arbitration rights in employment agreements (part 1 and part 2), the possible cost of an affair in the work place, and blaming “hormones” for poor job performance.
Here is a full roundup of our posts from November:
And don’t forget to read our monthly roundup from September and October.
In the run-up to last night’s elections, we discussed a number of suits by suits with political implications, including ousted Florida Republican Party chairman Jim Greer’s suit against the Florida GOP, as well as two posts (here and here) discussing the implications of Gallaudet University’s decision to suspend its Chief Diversity Officer, Angela McCaskill, for political speech she engaged in outside the workplace opposing same-sex marriage in Maryland (which passed last night, by the way). We also discussed the controversial whistleblower protection provision (§ 922) of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act in considerable depth (here, here, and here).
Of course – however it may have seemed if you lived in a swing state like Virginia, Ohio, Florida, or Colorado – there was more to October of 2012 than the impending election, and we were on top of those issues as well. In particular, we discussed the strange case of former Goldman Sachs VP Sergey Aleynikov, who was charged twice with stealing Goldman Sachs' intellectual property (in this case, proprietary computer code) but who nevertheless sought indemnification and advancement of his ongoing defense costs from Goldman Sachs. (We also discussed the D&O insurance implications of Aleynikov's lawsuit.)
Here's the full roundup of all of our posts from October:
In September, Suits by Suits covered a wide array of disputes across many industries throughout many jurisdictions. Topics reported on include Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and Eaton Corporation’s quest to sue six of its engineers. We revisited the UVA failed coup, we discussed common lessons from the “If You Can’t Say Something Nice,” department, and even told a story about two cases with lessons about Title VII and the Equal Pay Act. We also discussed Merrill Lynch and mandatory employee arbitration clauses, how saving money saved an employer from age discrimination, and the statutes of limitations.
In case you missed anything the first time around, here’s a roundup of all our posts from September:
As the regulatory and business environments in which our clients operate grow increasingly complex, we identify and offer perspectives on significant legal developments affecting businesses, organizations, and individuals. Each post aims to address timely issues and trends by evaluating impactful decisions, sharing observations of key enforcement changes, or distilling best practices drawn from experience. InsightZS also features personal interest pieces about the impact of our legal work in our communities and about associate life at Zuckerman Spaeder.
Information provided on InsightZS should not be considered legal advice and expressed views are those of the authors alone. Readers should seek specific legal guidance before acting in any particular circumstance.