A Full Service Practice

Sullivan & Cromwell's Labor & Employment Group regularly advises clients on their most challenging matters related to state and federal employment law. In the evolving landscape of the workplace, we provide guidance on emerging legal issues involving social responsibility, Human Capital Management, diversity and inclusion, and COVID-19 regulations and requirements.

We take a cross-disciplinary approach, working collaboratively with our colleagues from other practice areas to provide clients with a full range of labor and employment services. Working with our Whistleblower Litigation & Workplace Investigations Group, we conduct sensitive and complex corporate and workplace internal investigations, including examining whistleblower claims and retaliation allegations. The Group also works closely with members of the Firm's Executive Compensation Group.








 

The Labor and Employment Group regularly advises clients on:

  • routine and complex discrimination issues and, when necessary, the defense of pattern and practice discrimination litigation in state and federal courts and before arbitration panels;
  • advising boards and executives on fostering a positive workplace culture, how their decisions can impact a company's culture, and in responding to complaints, including in litigation;
  • 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 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; international issues; and additional traditional labor law matters.
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SELECTED REPRESENTATIONS

Recent Sullivan & Cromwell labor and employment litigation experience includes representing:
  • Flagstar Bancorp, Inc., in a civil action filed in the Southern District of New York by the bank’s former president and chief executive officer, who seeks over $14 million in golden parachute payments that the bank is prohibited from paying under federal banking regulations.
     
  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), in individual and class actions alleging that FCA and a labor union violated the Labor Management Relations Act. Those actions follow the unsealing of indictments and plea agreements relating to the alleged bribery of a labor union by former FCA employees. These matters include two class actions dismissed by district courts in Michigan and Ohio and upheld on appeal by the Sixth Circuit, a civil action brought by the president of United Auto Workers Local 961 on behalf of himself and UAW Local 961, and an NLRB proceeding, all of which were dismissed. S&C is also representing FCA in pending civil actions asserting claims under RICO relating to the bribery scheme, and motions to dismiss are pending in those matters.
     
  • Goldman Sachs, in a class action lawsuit in the Southern District of New York accusing the bank of discriminating against more than 3,300 women in connection with the Firm’s performance evaluations and promotions process. The case was brought on behalf of female associates and Vice Presidents who have worked in Goldman’s investment banking, investment management and securities divisions since September 2002 and is currently one of the most closely watched employment class action cases. In 2020, the court granted S&C’s motion to compel arbitration, holding that the arbitration clauses in the majority of the 1,800 agreements that class members had signed were enforceable.
     
  • The former Head of Alternative Products of a major financial advisory firm, in an action in New York in which the portfolio manager of one of the firm’s funds is seeking $30 million in damages based on the allegation that she was sexually harassed and terminated for reporting that harassment.
     
  • A FinTech company, in conducting an internal investigation of the company’s culture and responding to high-profile allegations of a toxic environment due to sexual harassment and misconduct.
     
  • A national sports league, in connection with allegations in the press regarding the culture at one of the teams in the league, including allegations that the team owner and a high-level executive reportedly made racist and sexist comments. S&C conducted an internal investigation into the merits of these allegations.
     
  • A consumer and retail company, in an investigation concerning allegations of racial bias and microaggressions in the workplace.
     
  • Volkswagen AG, in a putative class action lawsuit alleging age discrimination in a Tennessee plant in connection with a 2016 rebranding initiative relating to improved efficiency and productivity titled “Pact for the Future.”
     
  • Wells Fargo and employees named as individual defendants, in several wrongful termination litigations filed by former employees in New Jersey state and federal courts asserting claims of slander and violations of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the State’s whistleblower statute, the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act. In one case, S&C identified an applicable arbitration agreement and is seeking plaintiff’s consent to move the matter to arbitration.
     
  • A major U.S. financial institution, in multiple ongoing investigations including investigations into allegations of workplace misconduct, gender discrimination and retaliation, as well as investigations into various business practices raised by internal complaints.
     
  • A major industrial company, in two nationwide class actions against, one alleging race discrimination and one alleging age discrimination.
     
  • 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.
     
  • An individual executive, in a dispute with his former employer, a multinational information technology company, regarding the enforceability of a non-competition agreement. Although prepared to litigate the provision’s enforceability on the executive’s behalf, S&C successfully represented the executive to achieve a negotiated resolution satisfactory to all involved parties.
     
  • A large financial institution, in a whistleblower retaliation case and related employment action. S&C has successfully litigated all phases of the case, including a three-day bench trial before a Department of Labor administrative law judge.
     
  • Financial institutions, in arbitrations filed by former employees alleging improper forfeiture of equity awards.
     
  • Clients from various industries and sectors—including a consulting firm, a sports organization, an arts institution, financial services firms, and public and private educational institutions—in conducting internal reviews into allegations of sexual harassment that allegedly involved senior personnel.