On the docket: accusations of pregnancy discrimination and unfair termination, as well as an update on PwC ERISA class-action lawsuit.
Deloitte Looks To KO Class Claims In Maternity Leave Suit [Law360]
Back in early September, Saxon Knight, a former solutions manager at Deloitte, filed a proposed class-action lawsuit in Manhattan federal court alleging the firm violated the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and the New York State Human Rights Law. Knight claims she faced retaliation, gender discrimination, and pregnancy discrimination after returning to work from maternity leave, as have thousands of other women who have worked for the Green Dot.
In her suit, Knight accused Deloitte of reneging on an agreement that she would have her job once she finished taking six months of maternity leave and then firing her after she complained.
But lawyers representing Deloitte said in New York federal court on Oct. 30 that Knight’s complaints against the firm’s family leave policy are hers and hers alone, not those of other women, Law360 reported on Nov. 2:
In a filing backing a motion to strike Saxon Knight’s class allegations, the company said that her proposed class of female U.S. Deloitte employees was too broad and could lead to a “fishing expedition” during discovery.
“Regardless of how she attempts to dress up her allegations — whether to create settlement leverage or otherwise — she cannot transmogrify her uniquely individual allegations into class claims and thereby needlessly expose Defendant to the expense of classwide discovery,” Deloitte said in its filing.
The firm maintained it did nothing unlawful in shifting Knight from her former position after she returned from what it said was almost 27 weeks of paid leave in 2019 and then firing her during COVID-19-related layoffs in July 2020. The company’s family leave policy provides up to 24 weeks of paid family leave, though jobs are protected only for 12 weeks in accordance with federal law, it said.
Further, the company said Friday that Knight’s proposed class claims — which she alleged in her complaint were on behalf of “all women working for Deloitte in the United States who have taken a parental leave exceeding 12 weeks” — definitely could not stand.
Ex-Deloitte Swiss Partner Appeals Forced Retirement Decision [Law360]
David Joseph must be a glutton for punishment because he isn’t giving up his legal fight against Deloitte that he was removed from the partnership in Switzerland unfairly.
Law360 reported on Oct. 29:
David Joseph, who worked in Deloitte’s forensic services department in Switzerland until January, is appealing the December decision of Judge Phillipa Whipple, who found his request to have the termination decision reviewed at a meeting of the approximately 1,700 Deloitte equity partners was made too late.
The High Court’s interpretation of the terms of the agreement governing Joseph’s partnership was “simply wrong” and “commercially very odd,” said Jonathan Cohen QC, counsel for Joseph.
Cohen told the Court of Appeal that his “high-flyer,” successful client had the right to challenge a termination notice dated July 2019 before both the accountancy giant’s board of directors as well as the equity partners in the company, but was deprived of the latter.
Deloitte NSE LLP gave Joseph notice after an investigation into his conduct, the details of which were not disclosed in court documents.
It has been reported that Joseph was accused by whistleblowers at the firm of bullying employees and abusing the firm’s policy on expenses. After receiving a verbal warning in 2015, Joseph was told he was being kicked out of the partnership last year after a formal investigation into his conduct by an internal ethics panel, made up of senior Deloitte partners, which began in 2018, concluded that he should be fired.
Joseph claimed Deloitte “unfairly and unjustly” had refused him the right to appeal his dismissal because of a dispute with the firm over a seven-day deadline.
At issue in the appeal is a seven-day period set out in the members’ agreement, between a member of the LLP challenging a termination notice before the board and moving to a final stage of their appeal by calling a partners’ meeting.
Joseph says that the seven days should begin once the appellant has been informed of the board’s decision. Deloitte meanwhile argues that the window starts on the day of the board review, acting as an incentive for a quick decision.
Joseph reportedly couldn’t meet with the board of directors at the arranged time because he was sick but sent a written memorandum disputing the claims against him.
Lawsuit: Ex-Deloitte Switzerland Partner Accused of Bullying Seeks Vengeance In Court
Judge and Ex-Deloitte Switzerland Partner Weren’t on the Same Page Apparently
Fired Deloitte Switzerland Partner Owes Deloitte Some Money After Defeat In Court
High Court Wants Feds’ Input On PwC ERISA Class Action [Law360]
Last February, when life was way more normal than it is now, PwC asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a 2019 Second Circuit decision that revived a class-action suit by former PwC employees seeking higher pension benefits.
Bloomberg Law reported at the time:
PwC asked the Second Circuit to delay enforcement of its December 2019 decision so that the company can file a petition for review with the Supreme Court. The decision conflicts with Supreme Court precedent under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and there is a “reasonable probability” that the justices will take the case, PwC said.
Well we have an update, courtesy of Law360, which reported on Oct. 19:
The U.S. Supreme Court asked for the federal government’s take on Monday on whether it should review the Second Circuit’s holding that PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP retirees could receive money damages in a 14-year-old ERISA case.
The justices invited acting Solicitor General Jeff Wall to file a brief expressing the government’s opinion on the case, in which a sweeping class of retirees challenged the accounting firm’s method of calculating lump-sum retirement benefits.
PricewaterhouseCoopers asked the high court to take up the case in July, arguing that the Second Circuit improperly combined two sections of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act when it held in December that retirees could receive money damages after being shorted on pension payouts due to improper benefit calculation.
The lawsuit was filed in 2006 and certified as a class action in 2014. PwC filed paperwork in August attempting to decertify the roughly 17,000-member class, according to Law360.