The most controversial golden parachutes

These ousted executives took massive payouts, despite their controversial legacies.

Cushy landings for disgraced senior employees

A golden parachute is an agreement between a company and an employee specifying that the employee will receive certain significant benefits if employment is terminated. These may include severance pay, cash bonuses, stock options, or other benefits.

Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing’s former CEO, is walking away from the company with $62 million despite months of criticism following 2 737 MAX crashes. His firing entailed the loss of tens of millions of dollars worth of forfeited stock awards as well as the denial of any severance package, but a recent Bloomberg report states that he will hang onto an estimated $80.7 million worth of compensation worth of pay and benefits.

Former WeWork CEO Adam Neumann is reportedly receiving a $1.7 billion payout in exchange for his exit — which includes a $185 million consulting fee. This is despite the coworking company’s heavy financial losses. Meanwhile. WeWork is laying off at least 2,400 employees.

TV host Bill O’Reilly and Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes are both reported to have received exit packages of $25 million + $40 million after being fired from the network amid sexual harassment claims. Nancy Erika Smith the lawyer representing former Fox News employees against Bill O'Reilly reacted on CBS said by saying, “Bill O’Reilly is walking away with a whole lot of money. Much more than many of the women that he harassed.”

Stanley O’Neal received $161,5 million cash register sound after leaving Merrill Lynch in 2007 amid billions of losses due to the mortgage crisis according to Google Trends. The Google search for "golden parachute" peaked during the 2008 economic recession. Barack Obama seized on that theme in the 2008 presidential campaign. The Obama administration later announced a cap on golden parachutes for executives of companies who accepted bailout money during the financial crisis.