How the Recession Has Impacted the Area of Employment Law

Employment law is a big umbrella and within that, there are many different practice areas in the Outten and Golden, LLP law firm in New York.  Representing only employees or the plaintiff's side, they have the Executive and Professional Practice Group, dealing with offer letters and contracts, the Financial Services Practice Group, dealing with bonus claims and arbitration, the Wage and Hour Practice Group, dealing with a lot of class action, and the Discrimination and Retaliation Practice Group, to name just a few.

When one talks about employment law, Tammy Marzigliano, partner at Outten and Golden, LLP, says it's not really "pigeon-holed" like real estate.  Instead, it is pretty diversified so in times when the economy is not doing well, they're not impacted like other firms or specialities.Source: www.outtenandgolden.com

Outten and Golden, LLP is seeing more severance agreement claims because of all of the layoffs, due to the recession, says Marzigliano, who thinks that employers definitely try to cut corners when things are bad and this impacts wages that they're paying people and they don't want to pay out bonuses, creating an uptick in bonus claims.

The big thing, Marzigliano says, is how the recession impacts their area of law.  "While there's a lot more cases, there's also a lot more fighting," she says, explaining that when the economy is doing well, employers are more willing to settle cases and have conversations and when there is a recession, they're more likely to fight it.

The approach at Outten and Golden, LLP remains the same, regardless of the economy, says Marzigliano but points out that a big part of their practice is advising clients and helping them navigate through their employment matter.  Now they are seeing that more during the recession as employees are confused and don't know what their rights are.

Marzigliano stresses that an employee should always be really careful before they sign anything and have someone review it, whether it's an employment contract or severance agreement.  When someone signs a severance agreement, they're waving their rights and they may have more viable rights.  The challenge, says Marzigliano, is that when you're dealing with a recession, people don't want to spend the money to have it reviewed.

Marzigliano thinks the hot trend right now is the Whistle Blower Retaliation Group, specifically the Dodd Frank Act, section 922, which was passed in 2010.  There are two pieces, she says, that are of particular importance when it relates to employment law - the whistle blower bounty and the anti-retaliation piece.  The whistle blower, who may not necessarily be an employee, would get a large percentage of any recovery.  The anti-retaliation piece, which Marzigliano believes is pretty robust, is to incentivize people to speak out and the law will protect them and give them significant damages that were not otherwise available.

"This is an exciting time," says Marzigliano, as she sees this playing out more and more.

Tammy Marzigliano is is a partner at Outten & Golden LLP, representing employees in litigation and negotiation in all areas of employment law.  For more information on her, click here.  She spoke with the Employment Law Channel, part of The Legal Broadcast Network, providing online, on-demand legal video content.