shareholder oppression

Shareholder oppression—also known as minority shareholder oppression, squeeze out, or freeze out—is a general term for a claim or cause of action that may be made by a minority shareholder—a shareholder who owns less than a controlling percentage of the company—and is based on the alleged unfair or oppressive treatment of the minority shareholder.

Minority shareholder oppression claims often arise in closely-held corporations—corporations that are not publicly traded; in which a relatively small number of people own most or all of the shares; and in which the shareholders are often family members or people who know each other.

Those in control of a closely held corporation may use various squeeze-out or freeze-out tactics to deprive minority shareholders of benefits; to misappropriate those benefits for themselves; or to induce minority shareholders to relinquish their ownership for less than it is otherwise worth.

The types of conduct most commonly associated with such tactics include:

• denial of access to corporate books and records;

• withholding payment of, or declining to declare, dividends;

• termination of a minority shareholder's employment;

• misapplication of corporate funds and diversion of corporate opportunities for personal purposes; and

• manipulation of stock values.

State Statutes for the State of Texas

Federal Statutes