The Inbox - August 1, 2014

| O'Neill, Ashley

Just when government whistleblowers hoped retaliation was on the decline following the passage of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, there appears to be a 2.0 version out, and it’s coming with a vengeance.  The latest wave in retaliation comes in the form of criminal investigations lodged by government agencies against truth-telling employees.  Rather than risk detection with a baseless termination or demotion, these employers have increasingly begun to wage criminal investigations, said Tom Devine, legal director for the Government Accountability Project in an interview with Government Executive.  Devine stated that such actions are a scary, dangerous trend, and that forcing someone out of a government position through criminal investigations could forever damage the employee’s prospects for future employment.

NYG Capital LLC made two headlines this week when a former intern accused its CEO, Benjamin Wey, of sexual harassment and wrongful termination, among other things.  The plaintiff, Hanna Bouveng, a Swedish native, was working in the US on a J-1 visa when the alleged actions took place.  Upon her termination, Bouveng alleges that Wey continued to stalk, harass and malign her reputation.  Meanwhile, as also reported by Law 360, a former graphic design artist was terminated shortly after cooperating with attorneys investigating Bouveng’s charges against Wey.  Yonatan Weiss lent credence to Bouveng’s accusations and claims he was fired for being truthful during interviews on the subject.

Here are some updates on recent Inbox items of interest:

The Massachusetts legislature has been in the throes of negotiations over House and Senate versions of an economic development bill.  The Senate version contained an amendment that would ban non-competes for hourly employees and take other more restrictive measures against their enforcement.  Ultimately, though, the amendment failed despite heated discussion and two well-attended state house hearings on the issue.  The Boston Herald reported that the amendment’s author, Sen. William Brownsberger, vowed to not abandon the issue and return to it when the odds of passage were more favorable.  

In the gender bias suit against Goldman Sachs where the plaintiffs seek class certification of a group of 2300 female ex-employees, Goldman Sachs argued in its 84-page memorandum of law that the ex-employees, who worked in 140 separate business units, were managed by superiors with broad discretion over salaries and promotions, and therefore were not subject to any general policy of discrimination.  Law 360 reported that the plaintiffs’ certification argument is based on the women being subject to uniform company policies across the distinct business units.