Employee Compensation and Benefits
Steve Kunkle has extensive experience representing employees in obtaining the compensation and benefits which they are entitled to, whether that entitlement arises under their individual employment contracts, their employers’ benefit plans or personnel policies, or under specific statutes that have been enacted to protect employees’ rights. An illustrative list of compensation and benefit matters that we handle includes:
- Employment contract review and negotiation
- Noncompete, nonsolicitation, and no-raiding agreements
- Incentive compensation, commission, and bonus compensation matters
- Stock option awards, restricted stock grants, and other deferred compensation agreements
- Life insurance benefits
- Disability insurance, both short-term and long-term
- Retention bonus plans and agreements
- Change-in-control plans and agreements
- Severance plans and agreements, and individual severance negotiations
In each of these areas, our involvement can range from a behind-the-scenes review and advisory capacity to direct discussion and negotiation with your employer. If necessary, we are highly experienced in litigating compensation matters under all of the relevant state and federal statutes that create a patchwork of possible remedies for employees. Just as important, we are generally able to advise you when you do not have a strong claim in any of these areas, so that you do not expend precious economic resources and time tilting at windmills.
Although not legally required to do so unless it provides an overall severance plan, an employer often will offer a severance package when it terminates an employee or group of employees. The offer might include a cash payment, payout of accrued vacation or sick pay, extension of health insurance coverage paid for by the employer, acceleration of vesting of stock options, job-search assistance, or any combination of these items. Employers will virtually always require that you sign a comprehensive release waiving any potential legal claims as a condition of accepting the severance package.
Losing a job is an emotional experience, and it can be difficult for employees to understand whether they are getting a fair offer. Steve Kunkle of Kunkle and Sennett in West Chester, PA has extensive experience advising employees about severance proposals made by employers and negotiating with employers, where appropriate, to enhance the benefits provided under such proposals. He can help you decide if a severance agreement is fair and ensure that your rights are protected when you separate from employment.
Change in Control Benefits
It is not unusual when companies are taken over through merger with or acquisition by another entity for employees of the company being acquired to be offered change-in-control or retention benefits. Such benefits are often in the forms of retention bonuses to encourage key employees to stay with the acquiring entity or enhanced severance benefits if their employment is terminated, or their working conditions are adversely modified by the new employer within a limited time after the change in control of ownership.
The agreements or plans providing for such benefits can be quite complicated. Typically, the process for claiming such benefits requires the claimant to satisfy procedural conditions and meet eligibility criteria that are not always easy to understand for nonattorneys. Because these benefits can be substantial, often amounting to a year or more’s overall compensation, and because they often are targeted to highly compensated employees, individuals who are covered by such benefit agreements should seek counsel early in the process.
Steve Kunkle has more than 30 years of experience in handling these matters across a broad spectrum of industries and employer sizes. You should contact him with any questions, preferably before it gets to the point of asserting a claim for such benefits.
Long-Term Disability and Other Insured Benefits
In his representation of clients with long-term disability claims, Steve has helped disabled clients suffering from many types of disability, including several somewhat rarely occurring disabilities such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain syndrome, brain damage and neurocognitive impairments, and a variety of other life-altering conditions.
Steve also has significant experience handling benefit claims asserted under privately purchased long-term disability insurance plans. These claims typically arise under states statutes and insurance contract cases that are more favorable to individuals who have purchased such insurance with their own funds. In such claims, the possibility of punitive damages as a sanction on insurance carriers who deny claims in bad faith is a significant weapon.
For more details about our experience representing individuals with claims for long-term disability benefits, see our page on Long-Term Disability Benefits.