Denver partner Laurie J. Rust and associate Surbhi Garg recently secured the reversal of an interim arbitration award for Gordon & Rees's client, a telecommunications company, in San Francisco. Following an arbitration hearing in October 2016, the Arbitrator issued an interim award in favor of the claimant, a former venture capital employee in the company's Redwood City, California office. The interim award granted the employee severance pursuant to the company's severance plan, imposed waiting time penalties and prejudgment interest dating back to 2014, and allowed the claimant to seek his attorneys’ fees and costs. Faced with over $400,000 in liability, the company engaged Gordon & Rees to oppose the interim award.
Following substantial briefing on the issues, a hearing was held in San Francisco in January 2017. Gordon & Rees's attorneys argued that, pursuant to the terms of the severance agreement, even absent a finding of “good cause” to justify the termination, the company maintained substantial discretion to grant or deny an award of severance and that the exercise of its discretion was consistent with the duty of good faith and fair dealing. In his 27 page Final Award, the Arbitrator agreed with Gordon & Rees, reversed his previous order, declared the company the prevailing party, and awarded the claimant nothing.