Corporate Defense and Disputes

Important developments in U.S. securities law, white collar criminal defense, regulatory enforcement and other emerging issues impacting financial services institutions, publicly traded companies and private investment funds

Category Archives: Labor & Employment

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SEC Greenlights Board Diversity Requirements

After much debate, the SEC on Friday approved a Nasdaq proposal that will require listed companies to adopt several diversity-related measures.  Nasdaq first made this proposal, which requires listed companies to publicly disclose diversity information about their board members and either hire “diverse” members to their boards or explain why they do not in writing, … Continue Reading

L Brands Settles Derivative Suits

On July 30, 2021, L Brands, the parent company behind Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, settled a rash of derivatives actions which had alleged “toxic” workplace conditions and “a culture of misogyny” at the company.  We previously detailed the allegations in this space as part of our ongoing review of shareholder attempts to … Continue Reading

All-Seeing Bylaws Help Block Diversity Suit

The rash of shareholder derivative actions alleging violations of fiduciary duties tied to companies’ diversity measures are continuing to take a beating in the Northern District of California.  We previously posted about the dismissal on forum selection clause grounds of a derivative action brought in that court by a shareholder of The Gap, Inc. alleging … Continue Reading

Review of the SEC Whistleblower Program: At the Crossroads of Securities Law and Whistleblower Protection

Fiscal year 2020 marked the ten-year anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act establishing the Securities and Exchange Commission’s whistleblower program. Since its inception through the end of FY2020, the SEC has awarded approximately $562 million to 106 individuals. Even a decade after it was created, the whistleblower program continues to … Continue Reading

Another Diversity Suit Tossed on Forum Selection Grounds

This week, another shareholder derivative suit was dismissed based on a forum selection clause contained in the company’s bylaws. In November 2020, a shareholder filed a derivative action alleging that directors and officers of The Gap, Inc., an apparel company, had failed to create meaningful diversity on the Board of Directors on within the company’s … Continue Reading

Pinterest Diversity Suits Multiply

Late last month, a new batch of plaintiffs filed a stockholder derivative suit against Pinterest, Inc., in Delaware Chancery Court, making similar allegations to those made in a pair of cases filed in the Northern District of California in 2019. The plaintiffs allege that Pinterest executives ignored and failed to correct systemic race and gender … Continue Reading

Diversity Derivative Suit Dismissed

A shareholder derivative action which had alleged that Facebook’s lack of diversity caused a negative effect on its stock price was rejected by a California federal magistrate judge last week. The court held that the shareholder plaintiff had not pled demand futility with particularity, as required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 23.1, because she had … Continue Reading

SEC Punts NASDAQ Diversity Decision

After receiving extensive outside pressure from a variety of sources, include Senate Republicans, the SEC announced last week that it is deferring its decision on whether to approve a Nasdaq proposal to require “diverse” members on companies’ boards. The SEC is also simultaneously awaiting the confirmation of its new Chairman, Gary Gensler, which is still … Continue Reading

ESG on the Books: NASDAQ Proposed Rules Require Board Diversity

In December, the NASDAQ proposed new listing rules that—if implemented—would require companies to (i) disclose information about the diversity of their directors on an annual basis and (ii) have at least two diverse directors, or else provide an explanation why they do not. By “diverse directors,” the rules contemplate “one [director] who self-identifies as female … Continue Reading

Pinning Down Corporate Leadership

An interesting shareholder derivative suit was filed on November 30, 2020 in the Northern District of California against Pinterest, Inc. Pinterest, a visual discovery engine popular for collecting ideas for weddings and aggregating recipes, went public in April 2019. The complaint alleges that Pinterest executives “breached their fiduciary duties to the [c]ompany by perpetrating or … Continue Reading

U.S. DOL Issues Final Rule Defining Fiduciary Investment Advice

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor released its highly-anticipated Final Rule and Exemptions addressing when a person providing investment advice with respect to an employee benefit plan or individual retirement account is considered to be a fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 and the Internal Revenue Code. The new rule is … Continue Reading

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 and Supply Chain Transparency

Introduction The Modern Slavery Act 2015 is new legislation introduced in the UK with the intention of combatting slavery and human trafficking.  Continuing the trend for legislation to have extra-territorial reach, as illustrated by the UK Bribery Act, it can apply to entities based outside of the UK. Of particular importance to businesses is Section 54. … Continue Reading
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