The Labor and Employment Group regularly 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.
The Labor and Employment Group regularly advises clients on their most challenging matters, emerging issues and the evolving legal landscape, including on issues such as social responsibility, company culture, diversity and inclusion, and COVID-19.
The Group 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; and
- responses to labor disputes that may or may not directly involve clients.
SELECTED REPRESENTATIONSRecent 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.
- 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.
- 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.