As mass layoffs have roiled the tech world, investment banking and securities giant Goldman Sachs has begun laying off up to 3,200 staff, or roughly 6.5% of the bank’s workforce. This represents an upward tick from the usual 3% to 5% of staff the bank culls each year as part of what it calls “Strategic Resource Allocation” and a trend amid job cuts at rival firms Morgan Stanley and Citigroup. Like technology firms, financial firms grew earlier during the pandemic and are now announcing layoffs. If you have been impacted by these layoffs, you may have legal options to explore.
Am I Entitled to Severance?
Employees are typically not entitled to severance on termination, unless the employer has a severance plan, policy, or practice of offering severance, or unless the employee laid off was employed under an employment agreement that included a severance provision and the employee was not laid off for cause.
Was I Terminated Lawfully?
An employer with 100 or more full-time employees may be liable for violating the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act if it did not provide a written notice 60 days before the date of a mass layoff. A mass layoff occurs when an employer lays off 500 or more full-time workers at a single site of employment, or when it lays off between 50 and 499 full-time workers at a single site of employment and that number is 33% of full-time workers at the site of employment.
Additionally, an employer may be liable for wrongful termination if it terminates an employee:
- as a result of discrimination based on the employee’s membership in a protected class, including race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity), age (for employees 40 and over, under federal law, and even below 40 under some state and municipal laws), veteran status, disability, and genetic information, and any additional protections provided by local or state law;
- because the employee sought or took protected leave, such as under the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, or the Americans with Disabilities Act;
- because the employee refused to submit to sexual advances; or
- because the employee engaged in a protected activity, such as complaining about harassment or discrimination, seeking to enforce wage rights, engaging in union activity under the National Labor Relations Act, or whistleblowing.
What If I Am Aware of Illegal Acts by My Company?
The law encourages the reporting of wrongdoing by rewarding whistleblowers who provide original information that results in a successful enforcement brought by the SEC or CFTC. Whistleblowers are rewarded between 10% and 30% of funds collected. For a whistleblowing report to be protected under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, it must involve alleged violations of mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, securities fraud, any SEC rule or regulation, or any provision of federal law relating to fraud against the company’s shareholders.
Non-disclosure agreements cannot prevent you from pursuing legal claims for unlawful behavior. Sanford Heisler Sharp has represented employees and whistleblowers across a wide range of industries and recovered billions of dollars for plaintiffs, the U.S. Government, and state governments under a variety of statutes and programs. Contact us online now.