It makes sense that the one person in an organization that the C-suite wouldn’t want to make angry would be the general counsel. And if they do decide to send a GC packing, companies should take all precautions necessary to make sure their actions are by the book.

But Robert Rainville, former GC of jewelry producer and retailer Alex and Ani, says his old company did not perform its due diligence. As a result, he’s now suing for wrongful termination and breach of contract.

In the suit filed in U.S. District Court on Dec. 18, Rainville said that he was promised a transactional bonus of $1 million related to helping secure $70 million in financing from private equity firm JH Partners in September 2012. In addition, Rainville says he was promised 2 percent of corporate stock from a pool set aside for various Alex and Ani executives.

Rainville also claims that after more than 2 1/2 years on the job, the company terminated him without notice and without cause on Nov. 25, 2013. He seeks the bonus and stock he says he was promised, as well as $75,000 in damages.

According to the Providence Journal, Rainville claims that Alex and Ani fostered a hostile work environment and often asked him to perform legal duties that were not part of his job. He said directors Giovanni Feroce and Carolyn Rafaelian created an environment where “the actions and conduct of corporate officers and directors including but not limited to Giovanni Feroce in violation of the corporation’s sexual harassment and substance abuse policies and in violation of state and federal anti-discrimination laws.”

However, Feroce told the Journal that he is not worried by the lawsuit. “People know me and people know him,” he said. “With respect to personal attacks, I’m fine with the judicial system taking care of that.… This is just what he’s filed. Anybody can say anything” in a lawsuit. “That’s what I hope people understand. It’s certainly not fact.”


For more on InsideCounsel’s top GCs in the news, check out December’s 5 notable GCs in the news.