How Can I Help? Case Examples

  • Wrongful termination (lost wages and mechanics of sales compensation plans)
  • Partnership Disputes (fair and reasonable pay)
  • Personal Injury (lost wages)
  • Wrongful Death (medical malpractice impacting lifetime earnings for surviving family)

Case Study #1: Expert Witness for Executive Compensation Dispute

  • Studied executive compensation packages in partnership dispute
  • Provided sound, defensible evidence for defendants’ case
  • Established case for reasonable compensation and fiduciary responsibility

Case Background

I served as an expert witness in a case involving accusations of overcompensated leadership for a private company.

Since I specialize as a compensation consultant, my role as an expert witness was to provide a principled assessment of the executive compensation packages for the company’s partners, including their base, bonus, and long-term incentive pay.

Study Methodology

My role in this case was to illustrate fair and reasonable executive compensation ranges, in order to counter the complaint about excessive pay programs for the company’s leadership.

In order to do this, I first benchmarked the executives’ jobs to five national salary surveys. Additional scoping criteria included:

  • Revenue
  • Location
  • Industry
  • Current survey market data

To establish a range for fair and reasonable compensation, I set benchmarks between a market median (50th percentile) and 75th percentile for the market.

Especially at private companies, an accurate understanding of compensation needs to go beyond salary data and take roles and responsibilities into account. After collecting information from current surveys, I conducted interviews to learn more about the leadership’s roles, the business, and respective responsibilities at the company. Based on these conversations, I determined that a blended executive role made sense for their responsibilities as executives and leaders of the business.

Results

My study determined that their pay and bonuses fell within these ranges from a total direct compensation standpoint, thus constituting a fair and reasonable compensation package. Ultimately, these findings helped to establish that as far as their compensation went, they were not being paid excessively.

Key Insights

  1. Executive compensation must be carefully calibrated to the specifics of a company. Additionally, the responsibilities and duties of executive roles also factor into determining appropriate compensation levels.

  2. What constitutes “fair and reasonable” is specific to each case. Especially with executive compensation practices, some factors may have more impact on compensation than others, such as industry, company size, and location.

Bottom line: compensation is complicated! If you’re looking to add a principled, powerful expert witness that specializes in employment, partner disputes, lost wages, or other compensation cases in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’m here to help. Contact me at 408.391.4274 or email Clifford@onecompensation.com.

-Clifford Stephan, Founder of OneCompensation

Case Study #2: Expert Witness for Wrongful Death Suit

  • Determine projected earnings in a wrongful death suit
  • Assessed potential future earnings based on title, industry, geographic location, experience and past performance
  • Provided evidence that advocated for financial support of deceased’s family

Case Background

I was brought on as an expert witness in a wrongful death suit to assess current and projected earnings for an engineer who had been employed at a large technology firm based in the San Francisco Bay area.

Since I specialize as a compensation consultant for technology companies in the San Francisco Bay area, my role as an expert witness for the plaintiff was to provide an assessment of the projected earnings for the deceased.

Study Methodology

My role entailed determining a well-defined range for projected earnings of the deceased’s employment situation at the time of death. Due to the loss of life, the plaintiff needed to have a good sense of current and future earnings, something that was more sophisticated and accurate than just a sum of year-over-year earnings.

Especially since the person in question had been a software engineer employed at a top-tier enterprise level technology firm based in the San Francisco Bay area, I designed an assessment that factored in the industry and location. Based on my experience in designing global job leveling studies for pre-IPO and Fortune 100 companies in the area, I also factored in a likely future career scenario. This entailed determining how the deceased’s projected earnings for base, bonus, and equity would have changed, given a likely career trajectory from software engineer to senior software engineer.

To further inform the compensation benchmarks, I took into account depositions from past and current managers and colleagues. This evidence helped to further clarify and support a fair range for projected earnings for a high-demand role like software engineer, in a highly competitive region.

Results

My background in designing career pathing for pre-IPO and Fortune 100 technology companies provided insights that went beyond current salary, bonus, and stock holdings, which in turn gave the case a strong, defensible position. Five days after my deposition, the case was happily settled with a favorable outcome for the plaintiff.

Key Insights

1. Compensation is more than just a number. Especially in this instance, the conditions, performance, and demand for the deceased’s job title had considerable bearing on determining an appropriate estimate of wages.

2. Grounded projections matter. Especially with cases like this—where a family experienced the sudden loss of a wage-earning parent—it was important to think beyond the deceased’s employment circumstances at time of death. Accounting for a reasonable career trajectory was crucial for gaining a favorable outcome for the family.

Bottom line: compensation is complicated! If you’re looking to add a principled, powerful expert witness that specializes in employment, partner disputes, lost wages, or other compensation cases in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’m here to help. Contact me at 408.391.4274 or email Clifford@onecompensation.com. -Clifford Stephan, Founder of OneCompensation