Jackson Walker attorneys Manny Schoenhuber and Dawn Holiday led the representation of a German manufacturer of mobile electrification products as the respondent with a counterclaim in an employment arbitration tribunal by the American Arbitration Association.
In 2020, Jackson Walker’s client hired the claimant as the Director of Accounting and Human Resources, and provided the claimant a corporate credit card for business expenses.
During the course of the claimant’s employment, the company hired an outside accounting firm to perform an independent audit. The audit exposed numerous categories of questionable charges on the claimant’s company card, including charges for personal property taxes and fines for traffic violations.
As a result, the company terminated the claimant’s employment for cause in 2021.
In April 2021, the claimant initiated arbitration against the company, asserting damages for breach of contract and wrongful termination encompassing paid time off, bonuses, American Express company expenses and late fees, and the cost of lost refinance on claimant’s home. The company argued that under the Employment Agreement, in the case of termination for cause, the company has no further financial obligation to the claimant and that the claimant forfeits “any and all monetary bonuses of any kind whatsoever which have not accrued at the time of such termination.” The company counter-sued, seeking to recover damages for breach of contract, quantum meruit/unjust enrichment, civil theft, reimbursement, pre- and post-judgment interest, and attorneys’ fees.
Almost four months after the termination and after the arbitration began, the claimant attempted to submit a check for a portion of the expenses charged to the company card that the claimant had admitted to being “personally responsible.” However, the company returned the check.
After appearing before the Tribunal for three days on March 29–31, 2022, and presenting post-hearing briefing on April 22, the arbitrator issued an interim award on May 20 that found the claimant wrongfully charged expenses to the company credit card that were either personal in nature or expenses that were neither reasonable nor necessary business expenses. The arbitrator also stated that the claimant’s repeated charges without reimbursing the company “constitutes dishonesty, gross negligence, self-dealing, as well as conduct that can be interpreted as unprofessional or unethical.”
Consequently, the arbitrator found that the claimant take nothing and that the company is entitled to reimbursement of all charges to the company card as actual damages. The company is also entitled to recover 1% interest per month on the balance owed to the company, post-judgment interest at the highest rate allowed by law (5% per month), and attorneys’ fees and costs.
The Jackson Walker team supporting Manny and Dawn included Scott Fiddler with assistance from Denise Chatham and Miguel Villalpando.
“This was an incredible team effort, and I am sure it will only be one of many great successes to follow,” Manny said.
Meet the Team
Manny Schoenhuber is a business litigation and dispute resolution attorney. A native German, Manny works closely with European companies and their subsidiaries in Texas, and European investors in the United States. His practice focuses on market entry, contract negotiations and drafting, litigation, and dispute resolution. He also acts as outside general counsel to his European clients.
Dawn Holiday is an experienced litigator and trial attorney representing clients in civil disputes. Her practice is focused on labor and employment matters, and she has experience representing parties in arbitration proceedings, mediations and appeals across Texas.
Scott Fiddler is a commercial litigator and labor and employment attorney with over 25 years of experience handling wage and hour disputes, wrongful termination, discrimination, and non-compete agreement matters, as well as general labor and employment law. He is board certified in both labor and employment law and civil trial law. Scott serves as chair of Jackson Walker’s Labor & Employment practice in Houston.
Since 1887, Jackson Walker has grown to become the largest law firm in the state of Texas. With about 30% of the Firm’s more than 450 lawyers practicing litigation, Jackson Walker has one of the largest trial practices in the Southwest and was identified among the 39 law firms “Most Feared in Litigation” by BTI Consulting Group in 2022 for demonstrating a “fearless nature, urgency, relentlessness, and an aggressive strategy.” To explore the Firm’s experience in alternative dispute resolutions and employment litigation matters, visit the Trial & Appellate Litigation practice.