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I am being wrongfully terminated through no fault of my own,

Customer Question
Hello, I am being...

Hello, I am being wrongfully terminated through no fault of my own, but live in Texas, I am also the first employee in a start-up company and was promised in e-mails that equity would be given to me if the company was ever sold in the future. Am I entitled to the equity given that I live in Texas which is an at-will state, even though I am being wrongfully terminated and forced to resign because one of the owners of the company simply does not like me?

Lawyer's Assistant: Have you discussed the termination with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?

Currently not, but I plan to do so

Lawyer's Assistant: Are you an "at will" employee? Do you belong to a union?

Yes at will

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

Nothing else at the moment

Submitted: 1 month ago.Category: Employment Law
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Answered in 3 minutes by:
12/29/2017
Employment Lawyer: Marsha411JD, Lawyer replied 1 month ago
Marsha411JD
Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 20,614
Experience: Licensed Attorney with 29 yrs. exp in Employment Law
Verified

Hello,

Thank you for the information and your question. Did you sign a partnership or LLC agreement, or anything similar where the parties signed an agreement about equity? What did you give up in exchange for the equity offer?

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
I did not sign any LLC or partnership agreements, the equity was purely based on "sweat" equity, as I was the first employee in the company and helped grow it to a multi-million dollar company over 6 years of hard work.
Employment Lawyer: Marsha411JD, Lawyer replied 1 month ago

Thank you for that information. If you gave something up, in the form of free work or a firm job offer, then you might have a cause of action to pursue to enforce the equity offer. However, if there was no legal "consideration" in the form I mentioned, then the email promising equity is voidable by the party offering it unless it was reduced to writing and signed by both parties. I would advise you to sit down with a local attorney who can actually review all of the detailed facts with you and review any paperwork or emails that you have to see if they think a local court would enforce this promise made in the email.

Also, as an aside, a termination is not "wrongful" in a legal sense in an "at will" situation unless there is a breach of a written term employment contract, union bargaining agreement, or is due to unlawful discrimination based on an employee's membership in a protected class under employment discrimination laws. The nature of "at will" employment is that an employee can be terminated at any time, for any or no reason, even if the reason is arbitrary and unfair. The exceptions are what I mentioned.

Please feel free to ask for clarification if needed. If none is needed, then if you could take a moment to reply to this answer and let me know that I covered your question, then the Site will give me credit for assisting you today. Thank you

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Employment Lawyer: Marsha411JD, Lawyer replied 1 month ago

Hello again,

I wanted to touch base with you and make sure that you did not have any follow up questions for me from the answer I provided to you on the 29th. For some reason, the Experts are not always getting replies, or ratings (at the top of the question/answer page you are viewing or in the pop up box for this question), which is how we get credit (paid by the Site) for our work, that the customer thinks have gone through. In your case I received neither.

Please keep in mind that I cannot control the law or your circumstances, and am ethically bound to provide you with accurate information based on the facts you give me, even if the news is not good. If you are having technical difficulties with reading, replying or rating, please let me know so that I can inform the Site administrator.Please note that Site use works best while using a computer and using either Google Chrome or Firefox.

In any event, it was a pleasure assisting you and I would be glad to attempt to assist you further on this issue, or a new legal issue,if needed. You can bookmark my page at: http://www.justanswer.com/law/expert-marsha411jd/

Thank you.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Thank you Marsha,I had one last question, everything else seems straightforward so far. The dispute between myself and one of the owners of the company was arbitrated between a few employees and myself about 2 years ago, where I apologize in person as well as in writing. While I understand it is unfair to be forced to resign for something so petty, my question is, does informing other employees about the reason as to why I am being forced to resign fall under "confidential" information in any way? I have signed a confidentiality agreement which was part of a non-compete agreement a few months prior to this, and I am unsure if the events that led up to this incident can be deemed as "confidential", as they are mostly just personal issues that the owner had with myself. Would informing other employees of the incident and the truth be unwise and could I be sued by the company for slander/libel/defamation, even though the information is the truth?
Employment Lawyer: Marsha411JD, Lawyer replied 1 month ago

Thank you for your reply, however, I really can't opine whether or not your confidentiality agreement would cover this issue you raised. I can't for a few reasons. One is because we are not forming an attorney-client relationship through this Site, so I am not your attorney and therefore cannot, under Ethics rules, provide you with a legal opinion. The other reason is that I don't have the confidentiality agreement or access to the exact words that were said in regards ***** ***** termination.

If you are thinking about pursuing this, you might take the agreement to a local employment law attorney and have them review it for you in light of what you might know about what was said in the context of your leaving the Company. I can say that usually someone stating why you are leaving employment would not fall within this type of agreement. But again, the factors above would determine that issue. If the employer didn't sign one then it wouldn't be applicable to them anyway.

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Employment Lawyer: Marsha411JD, Lawyer replied 1 month ago

I just wanted to make sure you didn't have further follow up questions. If not, please don't forget to leave a rating in the pop up ratings box (should see 5 stars). Thank you and Happy New Year.

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Marsha411JD
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