EX-10.9 21 d229773dex109.htm SEPARATION AGREEMENT AND RELEASE Separation Agreement and Release

Exhibit 10.9

SEPARATION AGREEMENT AND RELEASE

This Separation Agreement and Release (“Agreement”) is made by and between James Lau (“Employee”) and Audience, Inc., a Delaware corporation (the “Company”) (collectively referred to as the “Parties” or individually referred to as a “Party”).

RECITALS

WHEREAS, Employee was employed by the Company;

WHEREAS, Employee signed an Confidential Information and Invention Assignment Agreement with the Company on August 26, 2009 (the “Confidentiality Agreement”);

WHEREAS, the Company granted Employee an option to purchase 3,685,000 shares of Company common stock on 10/22/2009 under the Company’s 2001 Stock Plan (the “2001 Plan”), an option to purchase 500,000 shares of Company common stock on 8/3/2010 under the 2001 Plan (collectively, the “Options”), and an option to purchase 416,470 shares of Company common stock on 8/3/2010 under the 2001 Plan (collectively, the “Options”), each of which are represented by a stock option agreement between the Company and Employee (the “Option Agreements”).

WHEREAS, the Company terminated Employee’s employment with the Company effective November 4, 2011 (the “Termination Date”); and

WHEREAS, the Parties wish to resolve any and all disputes, claims, complaints, grievances, charges, actions, petitions, and demands that the Employee may have against the Company and any of the Releasees as defined below, including, but not limited to, any and all claims arising out of or in any way related to Employee’s employment with or separation from the Company.

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the mutual promises made herein, the Company and Employee hereby agree as follows:

1.      Consideration.

a.        Payment. The Company agrees to pay Employee continuing payments of severance pay at a rate equal to Employee’s base salary rate, as in effect on the Termination Date ($19,740 per month), for six (6) months from the Termination Date (the last payment will occur on May 4, 2012) in accordance with the Company’s normal payroll practices.

b.        Bonus. The Company agrees to pay Employee a lump sum equivalent to $53, 300, less applicable withholding, which is equivalent to 75% of the annual bonus Employee is eligible to earn in 2011. This payment will be made to Employee within ten (10) business days after the Effective Date of this Agreement.

c.        COBRA. The Company will reimburse Employee for the payments Employee makes for COBRA coverage for a period of six (6) months, provided Employee timely elects and pays for continuation coverage pursuant to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, as amended (“COBRA”), within the time period prescribed pursuant to COBRA. COBRA reimbursements will be made by the Company to Employee consistent with the Company’s normal expense reimbursement policy, provided that Employee submits documentation to the Company substantiating his payments for COBRA coverage.


d.        Options. The Company will immediately vest the Options as to the number of unvested shares subject to the Options that would have otherwise vested pursuant to their respective schedules through the date six (6) months following the Termination Date. The Parties agree that the number of shares of Company common stock that Employee is entitled to purchase pursuant to the exercise of the Options after taking into account the accelerated vesting provided in the preceding sentence is 2,379,895 shares pursuant to the Option granted October 22, 2009, 218,750 shares pursuant to the Option granted August 3, 2010, and 182,205 shares pursuant to the Option granted August 3, 2010. The Options that have not vested as of the Termination Date will terminate and be cancelled as of the Termination Date and Employee will have no further rights or entitlements with respect thereto.

e.        Extended Post-Termination Exercise Period. The Options that remain outstanding following the Terminations Date will remain exercisable until November 2, 2012; provided, however, that they will not remain exercisable in any event beyond the ten-year anniversary of the respective grant dates of the Options, subject to earlier termination in connection with a Corporate Transaction (as defined in the 2001 Plan) pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Plans Executive understands that to the extent any of his currently outstanding stock options qualify as “incentive stock options” under Section 422 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, the extending of the post-termination exercise periods thereof is a modification of such incentive stock options, may disqualify his stock options as incentive stock options and may result in Executive having nonstatutory stock options. Executive represents that he has had the opportunity to consult with any tax advisors Executive deems advisable in connection with the execution of this Agreement and that Executive is not relying on the Company for any tax advice.

2.        Benefits. Employee’s health insurance benefits will cease on November 30, 2011, subject to Employee’s right to continue his health insurance under COBRA. Employee’s participation in all benefits and incidents of employment, including, but not limited to, vesting in stock options, and the accrual of bonuses, vacation, and paid time off, ceased as of the Termination Date.

3.        Payment of Salary and Receipt of All Benefits. Employee acknowledges and represents that, other than the consideration set forth in this Agreement, the Company has paid or provided all salary, wages, bonuses, accrued vacation/paid time off, premiums, leaves, housing allowances, relocation costs, interest, severance, outplacement costs, fees, reimbursable expenses, commissions, stock, stock options, vesting, and any and all other benefits and compensation due to Employee.

4.         Release of Claims. Employee agrees that the foregoing consideration represents settlement in full of all outstanding obligations owed to Employee by the Company and its current and former officers, directors, employees, agents, investors, attorneys, shareholders, administrators, affiliates, benefit plans, plan administrators, insurers, trustees, divisions, and subsidiaries, and predecessor and successor corporations and assigns (collectively, the “Releasees”). Employee, on his own behalf and on behalf of his respective heirs, family members, executors, agents, and assigns, hereby and forever releases the Releasees from, and agrees not to sue concerning, or in any manner to institute, prosecute, or pursue, any claim, complaint, charge, duty, obligation, demand, or cause of action relating to any matters of any kind, whether presently known or unknown, suspected or unsuspected, that Employee may possess against any of the Releasees arising from any omissions, acts, facts, or damages that have occurred up until and including the Effective Date of this Agreement, including, without limitation:


a.        any and all claims relating to or arising from Employee’s employment relationship with the Company and the termination of that relationship;

b.        any and all claims relating to, or arising from, Employee’s right to purchase, or actual purchase of shares of stock of the Company, including, without limitation, any claims for fraud, misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of duty under applicable state corporate law, and securities fraud under any state or federal law;

c.         any and all claims for wrongful discharge of employment; termination in violation of public policy; discrimination; harassment; retaliation; breach of contract, both express and implied; breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, both express and implied; promissory estoppel; negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress; fraud; negligent or intentional misrepresentation; negligent or intentional interference with contract or prospective economic advantage; unfair business practices; defamation; libel; slander; negligence; personal injury; assault; battery; invasion of privacy; false imprisonment; conversion; and disability benefits;

d.        any and all claims for violation of any federal, state, or municipal statute, including, but not limited to, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the Civil Rights Act of 1991; the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; the Equal Pay Act; the Fair Labor Standards Act; the Fair Credit Reporting Act; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967; the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act; the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974; the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act; the Family and Medical Leave Act; the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002; the California Family Rights Act; the California Labor Code; the California Workers’ Compensation Act; and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act;

e.        any and all claims for violation of the federal or any state constitution;

f.        any and all claims arising out of any other laws and regulations relating to employment or employment discrimination;

g.        any claim for any loss, cost, damage, or expense arising out of any dispute over the nonwithholding or other tax treatment of any of the proceeds received by Employee as a result of this Agreement; and

h.        any and all claims for attorneys’ fees and costs.

Employee agrees that the release set forth in this section will be and remain in effect in all respects as a complete general release as to the matters released. This release does not extend to any obligations incurred under this Agreement. This release does not release claims that cannot be released as a matter of law, including, but not limited to, Employee’s right to file a charge with or participate in a charge by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or any other local, state, or federal administrative body or government agency that is authorized to enforce or administer laws related to employment, against the Company (with the understanding that any such filing or participation does not give Employee the right to recover any monetary damages against the Company; Employee’s release of claims herein bars Employee from recovering such monetary relief from the Company).


5.        Acknowledgment of Waiver of Claims under ADEA. Employee acknowledges that he is waiving and releasing any rights he may have under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”), and that this waiver and release is knowing and voluntary. Employee agrees that this waiver and release does not apply to any rights or claims that may arise under the ADEA after the Effective Date of this Agreement. Employee acknowledges that the consideration given for this waiver and release is in addition to anything of value to which Employee was already entitled. Employee further acknowledges that he has been advised by this writing that: (a) he should consult with an attorney prior to executing this Agreement; (b) he has twenty-one (21) days within which to consider this Agreement; (c) he has seven (7) days following his execution of this Agreement to revoke this Agreement; (d) this Agreement will not be effective until after the revocation period has expired; and (e) nothing in this Agreement prevents or precludes Employee from challenging or seeking a determination in good faith of the validity of this waiver under the ADEA, nor does it impose any condition precedent, penalties, or costs for doing so, unless specifically authorized by federal law. In the event Employee signs this Agreement and returns it to the Company in less than the 21-day period identified above, Employee hereby acknowledges that he has freely and voluntarily chosen to waive the time period allotted for considering this Agreement.

6.        California Civil Code Section 1542. Employee acknowledges that he has been advised to consult with legal counsel and is familiar with the provisions of California Civil Code Section 1542, a statute that otherwise prohibits the release of unknown claims, which provides as follows:

A GENERAL RELEASE DOES NOT EXTEND TO CLAIMS WHICH THE CREDITOR DOES NOT KNOW OR SUSPECT TO EXIST IN HIS OR HER FAVOR AT THE TIME OF EXECUTING THE RELEASE, WHICH IF KNOWN BY HIM OR HER MUST HAVE MATERIALLY AFFECTED HIS OR HER SETTLEMENT WITH THE DEBTOR.

Employee, being aware of said code section, agrees to expressly waive any rights he may have thereunder, as well as under any other statute or common law principles of similar effect.

7.        No Pending or Future Lawsuits. Employee represents that he has no lawsuits, claims, or actions pending in his name, or on behalf of any other person or entity, against the Company or any of the other Releasees. Employee also represents that he does not intend to bring any claims on his own behalf or on behalf of any other person or entity against the Company or any of the other Releasees.

8.        Confidentiality. Employee agrees to maintain in complete confidence the existence of this Agreement, the contents and terms of this Agreement, and the consideration for this Agreement (hereinafter collectively referred to as “Separation Information”). Except as required by law, Employee may disclose Separation Information only to his immediate family members, the Court in any proceedings to enforce the terms of this Agreement, Employee’s attorney(s), and Employee’s accountant and any professional tax advisor to the extent that they need to know the Separation Information in order to provide advice on tax treatment or to prepare tax returns, and must prevent disclosure of any Separation Information to all other third parties. Employee agrees that he will not publicize, directly or indirectly, any Separation Information.

9.        Trade Secrets and Confidential Information/Company Property. Employee reaffirms and agrees to observe and abide by the terms of the Confidentiality Agreement, specifically including the provisions therein regarding nondisclosure of the Company’s trade secrets and confidential and proprietary information, and nonsolicitation of Company employees. Employee’s signature below constitutes his certification under penalty of perjury that he has returned all documents and other items provided to Employee by the Company, developed or obtained by Employee in connection with his employment with the Company, or otherwise belonging to the Company.


10.        No Cooperation. Employee agrees that he will not knowingly encourage, counsel, or assist any attorneys or their clients in the presentation or prosecution of any disputes, differences, grievances, claims, charges, or complaints by any third party against any of the Releasees, unless under a subpoena or other court order to do so or as related directly to the ADEA waiver in this Agreement. Employee agrees both to immediately notify the Company upon receipt of any such subpoena or court order, and to furnish, within three (3) business days of its receipt, a copy of such subpoena or other court order. If approached by anyone for counsel or assistance in the presentation or prosecution of any disputes, differences, grievances, claims, charges, or complaints against any of the Releasees, Employee will state no more than that he cannot provide counsel or assistance.

11.        Nondisparagement. Employee agrees to refrain from any disparagement, defamation, libel, or slander of any of the Releasees, and agrees to refrain from any tortious interference with the contracts and relationships of any of the Releasees.

12.        Breach. In addition to the rights provided in the “Attorneys’ Fees” section below, Employee acknowledges and agrees that any material breach of this Agreement, unless such breach constitutes a legal action by Employee challenging or seeking a determination in good faith of the validity of the waiver herein under the ADEA, or of any provision of the Confidentiality Agreement will entitle the Company immediately to recover and/or cease providing the consideration provided to Employee under this Agreement and to obtain damages, except as provided by law.

13.        No Admission of Liability. Employee understands and acknowledges that this Agreement constitutes a compromise and settlement of any and all actual or potential disputed claims by Employee. No action taken by the Company hereto, either previously or in connection with this Agreement, will be deemed or construed to be (a) an admission of the truth or falsity of any actual or potential claims or (b) an acknowledgment or admission by the Company of any fault or liability whatsoever to Employee or to any third party.

14.        Nonsolicitation. Employee agrees that for a period of twelve (12) months immediately following the Effective Date of this Agreement, Employee will not directly or indirectly solicit any of the Company’s employees to leave their employment at the Company.

15.        Costs. The Parties will each bear their own costs, attorneys’ fees, and other fees incurred in connection with the preparation of this Agreement.

16.        Indemnification. Employee agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Company from and against any and all loss, costs, damages, or expenses, including, without limitation, attorneys’ fees or expenses incurred by the Company arising out of the breach of this Agreement by Employee, or from any false representation made herein by Employee, or from any action or proceeding that may be commenced, prosecuted, or threatened by Employee or for Employee’s benefit, upon Employee’s initiative, direct or indirect, contrary to the provisions of this Agreement. Employee further agrees that in any such action or proceeding, this Agreement may be pled by the Company as a complete defense, or may be asserted by way of counterclaim or cross-claim.


17.        Authority. The Company represents and warrants that the undersigned has the authority to act on behalf of the Company and to bind the Company and all who may claim through it to the terms and conditions of this Agreement. Employee represents and warrants that he has the capacity to act on his own behalf and on behalf of all who might claim through him to bind them to the terms and conditions of this Agreement. Each Party warrants and represents that there are no liens or claims of lien or assignments in law or equity or otherwise of or against any of the claims or causes of action released herein.

18.        No Representations. Employee represents that he has had an opportunity to consult with an attorney, and has carefully read and understands the scope and effect of the provisions of this Agreement. Employee has not relied upon any representations or statements made by the Company that are not specifically set forth in this Agreement.

19.        Severability. In the event that any provision or any portion of any provision hereof or any surviving agreement made a part hereof becomes or is declared by a court of competent jurisdiction or arbitrator to be illegal, unenforceable, or void, this Agreement will continue in full force and effect without said provision or portion of provision.

20.        Attorneys’ Fees. Except with regard to a legal action challenging or seeking a determination in good faith of the validity of the waiver herein under the ADEA, in the event that either Party brings an action to enforce or effect its rights under this Agreement, the prevailing Party will be entitled to recover its costs and expenses, including the costs of mediation, arbitration, litigation, court fees, and reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred in connection with such an action.

21.        Entire Agreement. This Agreement represents the entire agreement and understanding between the Company and Employee concerning the subject matter of this Agreement and Employee’s employment with and separation from the Company and the events leading thereto and associated therewith, and supersedes and replaces any and all prior agreements and understandings concerning the subject matter of this Agreement and Employee’s relationship with the Company, with the exception of the Confidentiality Agreement the Plan and the Option Agreements.

22.        No Oral Modification. This Agreement may only be amended in a writing signed by Employee and the Company’s Chief Executive Officer.

23.        Governing Law. This Agreement will be governed by the laws of the State of California, without regard for choice-of-law provisions. The Parties consent to personal and exclusive jurisdiction and venue in the State of California.

24.        Effective Date. Employee understands that this Agreement will be null and void if not executed by him within twenty one (21) days, Each Party has seven (7) days after that Party signs this Agreement to revoke it. This Agreement will become effective on the eighth (8th) day after Employee signed this Agreement, so long as it has been signed by the Parties and has not been revoked by either Party before that date (the “Effective Date”).

25.        Counterparts. This Agreement may be executed in counterparts and by facsimile, and each counterpart and facsimile will have the same force and effect as an original and will constitute an effective, binding agreement on the part of each of the undersigned.


26.        Voluntary Execution of Agreement. Employee understands and agrees that he executed this Agreement voluntarily, without any duress or undue influence on the part or behalf of the Company or any third party, with the full intent of releasing all of his claims against the Company and any of the other Releasees. Employee acknowledges that:

a.      he has read this Agreement;

b.      he has been represented in the preparation, negotiation, and execution of this Agreement by legal counsel of his own choice or has elected not to retain legal counsel;

c.      he understands the terms and consequences of this Agreement and of the releases it contains; and

d.      he is fully aware of the legal and binding effect of this Agreement.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the Parties have executed this Agreement on the respective dates set forth below.

 

   

JAMES LAU, an individual

Dated: 1/9/12            

   

/s/ James Lau

   

James Lau

     
   

AUDIENCE, INC.

Dated: Dec29            , 2011

   

By

 

/s/ Peter Santos

     

Peter Santos

     

President & CEO