Former Cleaning Company Executive To Keep Money Made From Handshake Agreement

A former executive of a cleaning company will be able to keep the money awarded to him as termination payment, from terms agreed upon and sealed with a handshake, after taking the legal battle for his money all the way up to the High Court.

Anthony Stevens, Chief Digital Officer for KPMG, managed to win his legal battle against his former employers, Melbourne office cleaning and catering company Spotless.  He was then awarded $477,400 plus interest by the Victorian Court of Appeal when it upheld his case sometime last year.

The victory was marked by Spotless’s failed attempt to appeal to the Victorian Court of Appeal against allowing Mr. Stevens his termination pay, which the cleaning company tried last March. The company even attempted to request for special leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia, but was refused by the Victorian Court.

Mr. Stevens, who was once Chief Information Officer for Spotless, had managed to successfully argue to the Victorian Court of Appeal that Spotless had offered him entitlement for his company service between the dates of September 2011 and September 2013. The company was then legally obligated to provide said entitlement, which equalled to a year’s worth of pay in the form of shares.

Spotless’ management team underwent a change last August 2012, after the Melbourne office cleaning company was purchased and taken over by Pacific Equity Partners, a private equity firm. Mr. Stevens reported that he had assurance from the new management team that if he were to be terminated due to redundancy, that the company would give him his full termination benefits. Not in shares, but cold, hard cash.

Mr. Stevens now works as KPMG’s Chief Digital Officer in Melbourne, gave evidence that when he spoke to the management that he would have his role terminated, they verbally agreed his retention bonus would be given to Mr. Stevens and that, somewhere down the line, a written agreement would be made as proof of the agreement.

The Supreme Court of Australia heard that the letter had already been prepared and legally signed on Spotless’s behalf, but was never sent to Mr. Stevens. Other former executives had official letter and had received their bonuses under agreements similar to Stevens.