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Executive misdeeds certainly are not limited to Hewlett-Packard, although the company's track record of late does make some wonder. On August 6, embattled CEO Mark Hurd was released from his employment with HP via a Separation and Release Agreement. This document may be of use (or inspiration) to in-house legal counsel unfortunately faced with the same or similar situation.
Like most contracts of this type, the Agreement begins by clarifying the separation date and some of the terms. A list of benefits and separation pay is included. It may seem quite unreasonable to lay people that a man who will receive $12,224,693 under the Severance Plan for Executive Officers was brought down by allegedly fudging a mere $20,000 in expense reporting.
The Agreement goes on to address additional benefits such as stock options and applicable vesting dates. Other benefits due and owing to the ousted exec of course include health benefits under COBRA, 401(k) participation and accrued vacation and the like.
On the company's side, HP will require Mr. Hurd to adhere to the confidentiality agreements he has signed, as well as to a non-disparagement clause. In this paragraph, the company requires the executive not, "with intent to damage, disparage or encourage or induce others to disparage any of the Company, its subsidiaries and affiliates, together with all of their respective past and present directors and officers and each of their successors and assigns ..." Of course any subpoenas must be complied with, and notification of any court order sent to Mr. Hurd must be given to the company as soon as possible after receiving it.
An additional interesting element of the agreement is the cooperation clause. In it, the executive must agree to reasonably cooperate with the company by providing information about the business in light of any requests for information, any investigation or review of the company by "any federal, state or local regulatory, quasi-regulatory or self-governing authority," or any transition issues.
Of course the Separation and Release Agreement concludes with an extensive release requirement and the necessary choice of law, enforcement and entirety of agreement clauses. In addition, there is one other paragraph. HP would like all its property returned. There can be nothing more final than a request to turn in your key.
The full text of the Mark Hurd Separation and Release Agreement can be found on FindLaw.com.
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