Sullivan & Cromwell established its Labor and Employment Group more than 50 years ago. Today, virtually alone among its peer firms, S&C provides a full range of labor and employment services to clients.
 
The Firm advises clients on:
  • routine and complex discrimination issues and, when necessary, defends employers in discrimination litigation in state and federal courts and before arbitration panels;
  • difficult senior executive transition and retention issues, including advice on separation negotiations and litigation concerning such matters as disputes over “good reason” contract provisions;
  • restrictive covenant cases involving noncompete, nonsolicit and trade secret claims; cases involving forfeiture of stock awards for breaching such agreements; and all manner of other employment-related claims; and
  • a broad spectrum of employment matters, including workforce restructuring; compliance with complex U.S. and non-U.S. statutes, independent contractor and Fair Labor Standards Act classification and related wage and hour issues; investigations of employee complaints; resolution of particular employee situations; creation of employment agreements and severance arrangements; and international issues.
 
S&C also possesses considerable traditional labor law experience and provides:
  • specialized labor counsel in connection with mergers and acquisitions;
  • advice to nonunionized clients in addressing issues under the National Labor Relations Act;
  • responses to labor disputes that may or may not directly involve clients; and
  • representation to employers with unionized workforces, including negotiation and administration of labor contracts and representation of clients in labor arbitrations.
 
S&C’s Labor and Employment Group litigators work closely with members of the Firm’s Executive Compensation and Benefits Group to assist clients with the full spectrum of employment issues that they confront.
 

SELECTED REPRESENTATIONS

Recent Sullivan & Cromwell labor and employment litigation experience includes representing:
 
  • a major financial services firm, in an important case involving the enforcement of arbitration agreements that do not allow for class-action claims in employment discrimination actions. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed a lower court order refusing to enforce an arbitration agreement between the firm and a former employee who was seeking to bring a Title VII class-action claim based on “pattern or practice” evidence, thereby requiring the employee to be bound by the terms of the arbitration agreement.
     
  • the private equity investment vehicle of a Middle Eastern country, in an American Arbitration Association arbitration brought by the entity’s former co-chief investment officers, who sought approximately $700 million in alleged damages. After an 11-day hearing, the arbitrator denied the claimants’ claims in their entirety.
     
  • Eastman Kodak, as lead counsel in its global reorganization and Chapter 11 case in the United States, including all labor and employment issues stemming from the reorganizations.
     
  • a prominent company, in its internal investigation of serious allegations of improper conduct by an executive of the company. S&C reported results to the board and advises the company on the employment decisions stemming from the report.
     
  • the purchaser of assets of a bankrupt large financial services firm, in obtaining dismissal of two separate suits against it that were brought by former executives of the bankrupt company seeking more than $20 million in claimed contractual guarantees.
     
  • a New York-based professional services firm, in litigation related to the termination of a former partner. The partner claimed that the firm had tortiously interfered with his new employment contract by publicly circulating allegedly false statements about his termination, which resulted from sexual harassment claims. The Appellate Division, First Department of the New York State Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s dismissal of his claims on the grounds of res judicata and failure to state a claim.
     
  • several companies, in ongoing defense of claims in state and federal court of discrimination and retaliation claims, including Sarbanes-Oxley Act claims. In one case, S&C successfully represented a major United Kingdom-based banking firm in defending against whistleblower claims under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The Department of Labor dismissed the claim, based on S&C’s arguments.
     
  • an executive officer of a national apparel company, in a dispute with the officer’s former employer in connection with restrictive covenants.
     
  • a REIT, in defending against claims brought by a hedge fund relating to the REIT’s hiring of the hedge fund’s chief financial officer.
     
  • Microsoft, in the damages phase (after a finding of liability when Microsoft was represented by other counsel) of the landmark case concerning the entitlement of temporary workers and independent counsel to participate in employee benefit plans, such as health insurance, stock purchase plans and similar benefits, including acting as lead counsel in mediation of settlement terms and resolution of the matter.
     
  • a major professional sports league, in the procurement of the dismissal of age discrimination and retaliation charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by a former employee. S&C continues to represent the sports league on employment matters.
     
  • a major investment bank, in the successful defense of several National Association of Securities Dealers arbitrations challenging important terms of the bank’s stock-award program applicable to tens of thousands of employees. These arbitrations were a series of cases being handled by S&C that were filed by former employees of the client’s private-wealth management group challenging the forfeiture of conditional equity awards after the employees resigned or were terminated and proceeded to engage in competitive activities in violation of their equity award agreements. 
     
  • a U.K.-based financial firm, in securing dismissal  of a breach-of-contract lawsuit in federal court filed by a former employee based in Singapore and continuing to defend the firm against a Sarbanes-Oxley Act whistleblower charge filed by the same employee.