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Building legal case requires negotiation

Top executives seeking protection from job termination should seek regular reviews, reasonable severance

Breach of contract

May 12, 2017
By Walt Williams

When attorney Jonathan Howe of law firm Howe & Hutton gets a phone call from an association CEO saying he or she has signed a five-year contract, the first thing he advises is to take a look at the language regarding termination.

“So I say to the guy, you don’t have a five-year contract, you have a 90-day contract or a one-year contract based upon what the termination provision is,” Howe said.

Termination is not what most CEOs want to think about heading into a new job, but it’s a regular occurrence in associations—and sometimes the separation isn’t amicable. In recent months, at least two former CEOs have sued the organizations that once employed them, charging contract violations relating to their departures.