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Former Chesapeake employee sues over unpaid bonus

Matthew G. Kopf is suing former employer Chesapeake Energy Corp. over a bonus he contends should have been paid when the company remade its board last year.
BY JAY F. MARKS Published: June 1, 2013

A former Chesapeake Energy Corp. employee contends he is one of more than 1,000 workers who were denied payments due to them after last year's investor revolt.

Matthew G. Kopf filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Chesapeake last week in Oklahoma County District Court. His attorneys are seeking to turn the case into a class action on behalf of other Chesapeake employees.

Kopf alleges the Oklahoma City-based oil and natural gas producer failed to honor his employment contract, which provided for a cash payment and vesting of all stock options if there was a “change of control” at Chesapeake.

Chesapeake rejected Kopf's claim Friday.

“We believe that his claim is without merit and we intend to vigorously defend in whatever the court determines to be the correct forum,” spokesman Jim Gipson said.

Kopf, who left Chesapeake in October, contends there was a change of control when the company allowed some of its largest investors to remake its board of directors last summer, but he did not receive any money or stock.

Kopf was supposed to receive a payment equal to half his salary and half of the previous year's bonus, according to the lawsuit, plus the immediate vesting of all equity compensation.

More than 1,000 Chesapeake employees had similar language in their employment contracts last year, according to the lawsuit. None were paid under the change of control provision.

The lawsuit seeks more than $75,000 in damages.

Read the lawsuit report


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