CFO sues Sterne Agee for contract breaches

The former CFO of the investment group Sterne Agee Group, Inc., is suing his employer for breach of contract. The company is based in Alabama, one of Florida’s neighboring states. The man alleges that the company and its chief executive committed violations of employment law, including fraud, breach of contract, defamation and conversion. Press releases from the firm show that the man is looking to recover financial compensation for severance pay and other claims.

The firm’s chief executive is accused of using the company’s money to fund personal expenses, including jewelry and accessories, along with gifts for employees and his friends. The man also allegedly acquired a Florida condominium and several boats using company funds. The employee bringing the complaint reportedly confronted the CEO about his expenses, and he was subsequently fired.

The complaint also states that the CFO suffered defamation because the company’s chief executive made up stories about the man in an effort to explain his dismissal. The cover-up was necessary, according to the suit, because the firm had hired four CFOs during a six-year period. The man was ultimately fired in August 2012.

Court documents show that the company’s CEO promised the man a year’s severance pay if the position at Sterne Agee did not work out. It is not clear whether the man ever signed a formal employment contract with Sterne Agee, but the CEO made a verbal promise with regards to the severance pay. Now, the man is seeking to recover the full amount of that severance, along with $358,000 in bonds, stocks and other personal funds he sank into the company during his tenure. The company has refused to release the man’s personal investments.

For that reason, the man is seeking compensation for the relatively rare charge of conversion, a legal term used to describe the company’s refusal to cede control of their employee’s personal property. This man, like many employees, had no choice except to sue the company in an attempt to clear his professional reputation. If you have been wrongfully terminated without your severance pay, you should seek legal assistance in filing a civil suit to defend your employee rights.

Source: AL.com, “Fired Sterne Agee CFO sues former employer, CEO Holbrook for defamation, fraud, breach of contract, conversion (updated),” Kyle Whitmire, March 5, 2013