Monday, June 04, 2007

24 Heaven

If you're an exec at The Sharper Image Corporation (SHRP), there are at least twenty-four ways you can get kicked out for “Cause” and lose your severance package.

Whoever wrote the company's executive severance policy (dated October but filed Friday with the 10-K) must have had fun thinking up these two dozen deadly sins, which include drug use, possession of lethal weapons and sabotage, along with ho-hum violations of company policy and willful failures to perform one's duties. And the list is preceded by that lovely legal phrase, “without limitation,” meaning the 24 reasons are just a start and if you think of others they could work too.

We noticed that the employment contract with the company's newbie President and CEO Steven A. Lightman, signed in March, applies the same Cause definition as the severance policy. As discussed here ad nauseam, CEOs often negotiate contracts to ensure big severance pay no matter what sins they commit. So we find Mr. Lightman's deal quite refreshing: we love when a CEO is held to the same standards of behavior as an OCE (Ordinary Corporate Employee). (Here the equality is not complete: If Mr. Lightman does none of the 24 bad things but loses his job anyway, he beats out the OCEs with a two-year severance deal to their nine months.)

To celebrate, we're going to order 24 ounces of overpriced Donald Trump steaks from the Sharper Image catalogue, despite fear of employee sabotage in the form of stray reddish hairs on the Cowboy Bone-in Rib Eye. If we spot even one TrumpHair in our freezer, the beef goes into lockdown and we call Jack Bauer.