Former Executive Keeps Money From A “Handshake” Agreement

Any professional seeks to retire or leave their company on the best terms possible. From a commercial cleaner in Gold Coast, to the Perth executive, everyone wants to ensure that if they are forced to leave or decide to do so, they’re assured for the future.

As is the case with former Spotless executive Anthony Stevens, who decided to take up the matter of his termination pay with the High Court. And won.

The former cleaning company exec will be able to legally retain an entitlement, amounting to $477,400, awarded to him as part of a semi-formal agreement marked by a handshake after a legal battle against his former employer. The cleaning company failed in its rebuttal against Mr. Stevens’ entitlement, resulting in the High Court deciding that the former executive is due his termination payment.

The Victorian Court of Appeal awarded Mr. Stevens $477,400 plus interest when it evaluated his case. Spotless made appeals to try and counter this decision, but was refused.

Mr. Stevens, former chief information officer for Spotless before he was fired, had managed to argue in the Victorian Court of Appeal that he was due to receive the entitlement pay that Spotless owed him based on an agreement solidified via a handshake sometime in the August of 2012. The entitlement pay amounted to  a year’s pay. Originally set to be paid in shares, it was paid in cash after a protracted legal battle.

In August 2012, Pacific Equity Partners, a private equity firm, took control of the company, resulting in a change of management. According to Mr. Stevens, the new management assured him, verbally, that if he were to become redundant, he would be paid cash as his termination benefits, not shares. He produced evidence of the verbal agreement that also stated that a written agreement would be created as documentation of the arrangement.

The Court had learned that a letter for Mr. Stevens was prepared, with the proper authorization from Spotless, but was never sent. However, other former executives received their respective letters and retention bonus. The new managers denied the verbal agreement, but evidence in cross-examination proved that the verbal agreement was made. Spotless has then attempted to recover part of the cost by compensating for it through Mr. Stevens’ other benefits.

This legal issue started because of management changes. This case can occur to any part of a company, such as a commercial cleaner in Gold Coast, or an accountant.

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