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Business Litigation, Advising, and Executive Compensation

Severance Negotiations 

Seeking a skilled lawyer’s help when you have a severance offer is important for a number of reasons.  First, severance agreements usually come with waivers of your rights to pursue any legal claims against your employer.  Our experienced lawyers can help you decide whether what you are gaining from signing is worth the waiver of your rights.  Severance agreements also may include non-competition clauses or terms that require you to cooperate with your employer after your termination.  Our lawyers can help ensure that these terms are drafted more favorably for you, to ensure your ability to thrive after an employment separation.  A lawyer experienced in this area also will know not only what a fair severance would be, but how to negotiate for better financial terms.  This may include not only more money, but more favorable benefits, payment terms and other conditions.

Our experienced team understands that if you do not ask for what you want, the answer is always “no.” At the same time, professionals often want to handle severance negotiations with discretion and tact. This takes judgment, experience and a good understanding of each client’s individual needs and goals. We offer personalized, confidential support and advice to clients earning seven figures and more, as well as to individuals seeking a review of an uncomplicated severance offer.

Executive Compensation Issues

Our lawyers are experienced in developing, assessing and negotiating senior executive employment and separation agreements, equity-based compensation such as stock option plans, “golden parachute” arrangements, deferred compensation and retirement benefits.  We innovate as needed for high net-worth clients to achieve individualized goals, to preserve flexibility and to minimize and manage calculated risks. Our goal in such situations is to foresee problems before they arise, but some clients reach us only after litigation involving these areas is threatened or imminent.  Whatever the need, our attorneys have the practical experience and skills to guide our clients to productive and successful outcomes.

Breach of Contract

Salvatore Prescott & Porter lawyers have experience handling contract disputes ranging from breaches of employment contracts to multi-million dollar commercial disputes. Jennifer Salvatore began her career working on commercial litigation matters for large multinational corporations and has helped companies and individuals recoup significant damages in breach of contract claims. Hide Sano, of-counsel to the firm, also regularly handles contract disputes, in particular in the health care and construction industries. And all of our attorneys have successfully represented executives and other professionals in high-stakes contract litigation and understand the law in this area.

Non-Compete Issues

One of the most frequent dilemmas facing professional and other management level employees is how to exit a job and go work in the same industry when you have signed a non-competition agreement. Michigan courts enforce non-competes, but only when the restrictions are reasonably tailored to protect the employer’s legitimate business interests. Other states, including California, do not enforce non-competes. Before accepting a job with an employer in the same industry, you should get legal advice about whether your existing contractual terms are enforceable and how to best protect yourself and your new employer from litigation over non-competition issues. We regularly offer advice and counseling on these issues and have successfully helped clients both avoid and win litigation over non-compete claims in Michigan and other states.

Disciplinary Advising

Many employment lawyers only want to talk with you once you have been terminated. But often terminations or disciplinary action can be avoided altogether if you seek legal advice early in the pre-termination process. If you are being disciplined, put on a performance improvement plan, or otherwise counseled that you might be let go, seeking the advice of counsel early is often the best way to avoid getting fired or at least best position yourself for a smooth transition. We will advise you on your options and help strategize about the best way to exit on your own terms and with separation pay and benefits. We also regularly represent employees in disciplinary investigations to make sure that your interests are protected and your case is best presented when your job and reputation are on the line.

Business Litigation and Shareholder Disputes

Salvatore Prescott & Porter attorneys have all worked at national law firms representing Fortune 100 companies in complex commercial litigation and other commercial matters. That experience helps us go toe-to-toe with well represented corporations and the government on all sorts of commercial disputes.  Jennifer Salvatore recently successfully represented an Ann Arbor-based health care company in a commercial litigation matter that helped the company gain access to valuable health care databases to which they were legally entitled. Resolution of that matter helped the company better serve its clients, grow its business, hire new employees, and significantly increase its revenues.

We also frequently consult with and represent directors and officers of closely-held businesses on business break ups, breach of fiduciary duty claims and other shareholder disputes. These are tough cases that require both business and legal acumen as well as attention to the personal and sometimes family dynamics that are often at the core of these disputes. We have successfully litigated these cases and have also helped avoid litigation by resolving these disputes early for the good of our clients and their companies.

Employee Benefits

We represent individuals who have been wrongly denied employee benefits, such as a pension payout or promised medical coverage. Founding partner Sarah Prescott began her career writing and auditing employee benefit plans for some of the biggest companies in the United States. These employers ran benefit plans touching hundreds of thousands of employees and involving billions of dollars in assets. Lawsuits involving these types of employee benefit plans can be incredibly complicated, and no one situation is like another—with just one exception: when it comes to denial of benefits, there are extremely tight deadlines for filing a claim. If you feel your employee benefits have been wrongfully denied, it is essential to quickly be in touch with a lawyer who understands this area of the law.

Defamation, Slander, and Libel

If someone has spread lies about you, the law provides a remedy—particularly if the damage done has harmed your reputation or business interests. Defamation occurs whenever someone speaks or prints false information that damages you.  Untrue rumors and misleading information about you can spread worldwide through the Internet, and may prevent you from building future social and professional relationships.  If you are facing this kind of problem, we can assist you in evaluating your options. Our lawyers have litigated in Federal and State courts significant, high profile cases of stalking and defamation. Our experience can help you immediately, and it is critical in this area of the law to ensure you have experienced lawyers before you file a lawsuit.

Representing Small Businesses and Startups

Our expertise in employment law issues can be instrumental to companies and HR professionals looking for advice on handling difficult employment decisions, drafting employee handbooks, drafting or reviewing employment contracts and responding to employee medical leave or accommodation requests. We can also conduct investigations when a complaint of sex harassment or other workplace misconduct has been made and provide training to companies or institutions on employment law issues.

Our experience representing plaintiffs gives us unique insight into how to avoid employment litigation and how to put in place proactive policies and training that avoid expensive and messy problems down the road. We also handle commercial litigation matters for many companies. As a small business ourselves, we are sensitive to the costs associated with legal fees and are able to offer flexible and affordable fee arrangements for our corporate clients.

Words from our clients

Jennifer Salvatore is a courageous litigator, who pursued my case with compassion and intelligence. Not only did she fully articulate our case’s arguments, she also deftly avoided unnecessary conflict and costs both in the way she organized her team and in how she managed communications with the plaintiff, witnesses, and the Court.