[American Express] Took Parental Leave, then Laid Off


#1

Sequence of Events

  • Employed at American Express 4 years ago
  • Notified about a pending sale of a business unit
  • HR assures us no one will be laid off, and assures us employees will be placed in another department at the conclusion of the sale
  • Spouse gives birth about 3 months after convo with HR & SVP
  • Discussed future of my employment (same assurances given)
  • Applied for Parental Leave & approved parental leave month after conversation
  • Started Parental Leave (5 months, full leave) about 2 months later
  • Boss calls me about something urgent at work that needs attention which requires me physically coming into the office, but I was out of state at my in-laws. Informed him of my situation, and he made me accountable to the situation
  • Received phone call of lay off a month later
  • Last day of work will be when I return from parental leave

#2

What state are you in? Are you subject to a forced arbitration agreement?

Also, HR saying people won’t get laid off after a merger or reorganization announcement is pretty typical - even if they plan on doing it.

Were any of your peers laid off at the time they informed you?


#3

I’m in NYC. I’m still awaiting HR’s response to receiving my documents. But, I would surmise with significant certainty that there is a forced arbitration clause.

I’m sure there were others who were laid off, but I haven’t kept in touch with everyone in the business unit. There were probably about 200 people in the unit, of which, my group within the business unit comprised of 17 people in the beginning. By the time I took paternity, 13 had moved elsewhere in the company.

I know my boss was laid off too. And of the other ~200, they received 30-60 days to find other employment within the company. Something I can’t do, because I’m on paternity, and coming back to work would force me to give up all my paternity.


#4

Thanks!

So, your unit is being dissolved and everyone is getting an opportunity to find new positions within the company.

You’re on paternity leave and the company won’t give you a similar opportunity after your paternity leave is up. You have to apply for jobs now - during paternity leave - or you’re out of luck.

Do I have this right?

You thought maybe you were being made an example out of for having taken paternity leave. Why do you think that? I’m not disagreeing with you. Just looking for examples of why you think that.

We’ll have to get some others to chime in here and/or privately.


#5

Also, how many weeks into paternity leave were you when your boss required you come into office?

EDIT: So as of right this second, you cannot filter cases on LPF by Dispute Type. However, you can filter cases by state. I searched “American Express state:NY” and I can see in the left hand column that there are a handful of employment cases.

Here are direct links:



All of the cases were settled. The attorneys that represented consumers were:
Donna Maio - DeJesu Maio & Associates
Tracey Bernstein - Himmel & Bernstein, LLP
Samuel Blaustein - DUNNINGTON BARTHOLOW & MILLER LLP

I would search for those firms and call and ask for consultation with those attorneys specifically. Given that they have experience suing Amex in arbitration, they are a great place to start.

I am still working on getting you more guidance from consumer advocates.


#6

Hey OP!

I second Dan’s recommendation to do a consult with lawyers who have arbitrated with American Express before. That is good starting point to see if they think you have a case.

Family leave or employment organizations may also be interested in your being targeted for paternity leave (if that’s the case), but I doubt they would have the resources to actually represent you. But you might consider talking to the National Partnership for Women & Families, MenCare, or the National Employment Law Project.


#7

You’re on paternity leave and the company won’t give you a similar opportunity after your paternity leave is up. You have to apply for jobs now - during paternity leave - or you’re out of luck.

Yes, I was initially given assurances that they would give me a similar job after my paternity was up.

It’s a double edged sword. I lose my paternity once I “come back to work.” Interviewing internally would make me considered “back to work.” This matters, because my last date of employment is the last day of my paternity leave. So, I don’t want to risk that.

You thought maybe you were being made an example out of for having taken paternity leave. Why do you think that? I’m not disagreeing with you. Just looking for examples of why you think that.

Part of it is disgruntled cynicism. But another part of it is, I have no other reason to believe I was a bad employee. My performance review from 2017 reflects this.


#8

Also, how many weeks into paternity leave were you when your boss required you come into office?

3 Weeks.

Thanks for that information.


#9

Definitely call those attorneys and get free consultations. Let us know what happens.


#10

Every attorney I speak to either:
a) Don’t respond to my emails
b) Charge $550/hour just for the consultation (and require 2 hour consultations).

Is this common for these type of cases?


#11

I would call and not email. Be a pest. $1,100 for a consultation seems silly. Maybe @wamandajd can give you an introduction to one of those organizations?

Can you tell us which one wanted the consulting fee? One of the goals here, I think, is to document our experiences. So the person that comes after you six months from now knows who not to call. Once we add the ability to comment on attorneys, you or we can add your experience as a note.


#12

Tracey Bernstein quoted somewhere around $500-$600/hr

Jonathan Ben-Asher quoted $550 hr, with a 2 hour minimum for the consultation

All the others did not respond


#13

Thanks for sharing!

Try this guy:

One of the unique aspects of AAA arbitration is that an attorney need not be licensed in your state to represent you in an AAA arbitration. So you have a broader pool of attorneys to pick from. I would check the LPF database for attorneys in nearby states.

Also, try calling the orgs that @wamandajd mentioned. It’s tough. I’ve been in your position. You just have to keep at it and keep it simple when making your intro.