Lenders accused of unethical conduct amid massacre of layoffs

Better is accused by the firm’s former second-in-command of violating the California WARN Act in CEO Vishal Garg’s mass firing last December, in which he laid off 900 employees in a now-infamous Zoom call. Garg allegedly dismissed internal concerns about a WARN Act violation in only paying terminated employees up to $8 million, or three weeks’ worth of pay, according to a lawsuit from Sarah Pierce. 

The lender has refuted the claims and counsel for Pierce is awaiting a judge’s approval to file an opposition to Better and Garg’s motions to dismiss her suit. Better has since filed at least three WARN notices in California and New York disclosing dozens of layoffs.

Meanwhile, employees most recently impacted by embattled lender’s “rightsizing” called into question the lender’s tactics in laying off employees.

“The company announces that we will be working from home the next day and for us to take our computers,” a former Better employee said. ” The next day when we try to log in, we can’t, because we’ve been terminated.” After computers go dark, a manager calls and explains that the staffer is being let go, they said. 

Some also claim that the New York-based lender, in a recent purge, has laid off employees taking paternity and maternity leave — something it’s already facing litigation for allegedly doing in the past few months. Better did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Months earlier, Better had allegedly terminated over a dozen employees in late August either currently on paternal leave or slated to take the leave in the near-future, according to a recent lawsuit. Ryan Peugh, a former director at Better, claims he was terminated one late August morning, less than one hour after notifying his workplace of the birth of his daughter that morning. 

Counsel for Peugh said they believe more individuals on paternal leave were targeted for layoffs. A spokesperson for Better said the decision to lay off Peugh was made “several days beforehand.” A summons was issued to Better last week, according to court records. 

With regards to lack of severance pay and other shortcuts, Paul Hindman, managing director at Grid Origination Services, noted that the market is currently tough and companies “do these kinds of things to survive.”

“We’re cutting into the core expert talent of the industry and so companies are just in survival mode, don’t forget that piece of it,” said Hindman. “Employers if they could afford [to give severance and other benefits], they would do it naturally. If they haven’t done it, that means they’re in trouble.”

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