The company was under a huge amount of financial stress due to actions of executive officers. Their solution to having to pay employees was to have employees sign a contract that waived pay in exchange for shares in the company. In the meeting the CEO told us that "It may say Final Draft at the top, but this is only a rough draft and another contract will be provided for you to sign later." The CFO told us that "if we didn't sign the contract, there was a possibility that you'll have greatly reduced hours or have to be let go." 5 employees signed, one backed out 2 days later and that was accepted by the executives. I signed as I did not want to go through the stress of seeking another job and risk being unemployed for an extended period while job hunting. Later I decided that I would not sign the "final draft" of the contract. But they enforced the "draft" contract without a "final draft" provided. 6 months later I told the executives that I wanted out and that I forfeit the shares in an email because the company's situation only got worse, more stressful and the contract no longer made any valid sense. They ignored me and did nothing. I want what is owed to me, what can I do?
You are going to have a tough time explaining why are you signed a contract you did not intend to be bound by, if that is what you are getting at.
Aside from that, I see a whole lot of potential issues with this set up they established. You should go talk to an employment attorney.
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You may have rights, but enforcing those rights will be expensive. Do not count on an easy settlement.
Further, don't expect a judge or jury to just accept that 1) you thought people sign draft agreements no matter what the title. Drafts are drafts and are not signed because they are drafts. 2) Proving what people said compared to what the document says is never easy.
Reduce the whole story to two pages. Sleep on it and the following day edit it. Then add no more than 10 exhibits: the "Final Draft" and no more than 9 other exhibits. Then try to figure out what the total amount of money involved is. Not speculation, real money, as of today.
Then you start contacting business litigators in San Jose. They will take you more seriously based on your preparation. Do not, however, expect most lawyers to take this on a contingent fee/percentage of recovery basis.
The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts...
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