Ken Lewis started at Bank of America 40 years ago, working his way up from junior credit analyst to the CEO suite. His employment contract at the nation's largest banks obviously predates the government's bailout of Bank of America. Yet pay czar Kenneth Feinberg may have a say on whether he cashes in on retirement benefits and accumulated compensation worth $125 million.
Some argue it is simply inappropriate for Feinberg to try to tackle Lewis' retirement package.
"A fair reading of the situation would be he is getting what he is entitled to and game over," said Alan Johnson, a Wall Street compensation consultant.
But to many, Lewis is a poster child for the crisis that struck Wall Street banks last year, nearly collapsing the financial sector and resulting in taxpayers spending hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out firms like Bank of America.
"The Obama administration has to use every tool at its disposal to fix the pay problem, particularly the golden parachute for failed executives," said Richard Ferlauto, director of corporate governance and pension investments for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, one of the largest U.S. labor unions.