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As the largest labor and employment firm in the world, Littler represents a wide range of financial institutions, including global banks, hedge funds, private equity firms, and local branches of foreign banks.
To advise financial services companies effectively, employment lawyers must be familiar with the special regulatory requirements and challenges that confront financial services clients across the nation and internationally. The regulatory environment facing these entities is extraordinarily complex, encompassing every aspect of the employment relationship – from recruitment, hiring, and supervision to termination.
Our attorneys closely monitor developments affecting the financial services industry and share their informed analysis through publications and speaking engagements. Many Littler attorneys have leading roles in key industry organizations, including the Institute of International Bankers; banking law committees of the American Bar Association, International Bar Association, and state bar associations; and the American Bankers Association.
A core group of our attorneys focuses on the needs of domestic and foreign financial services companies. We frequently host client briefings and webinars concerning key issues for financial services clients. Examples of recent topics are whistleblower risk, internal investigations, criminal background and credit checks and special Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) issues, such as exemptions commonly relied upon in the banking industry.
Littler attorneys regularly appear on behalf of our financial services clients in agency actions, as well as in state and federal court and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitrations. We provide clear trainings for our clients on topics essential to their business, including anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation laws and best practices in internal investigations, as well as screening for statutory disqualifications and avoiding U-5 defamation claims.
We are deeply familiar with the various federal and state regulatory agencies and self-regulatory organizations (SROs) and the rules, regulations, and guidances our clients must negotiate. These include those focused on whistleblower protections, anti-bribery and corruption and anti-money laundering, along with knowledge of the rules and regulations promulgated under the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), and the USA PATRIOT Act, among other federal and state statutes.
Regulators want to be sure that financial services companies have in place compliant codes of conduct, ethical standards, reporting and anti-retaliation policies, and internal investigation protocols, as well as mandated trainings. We help to draft and implement internal investigation protocols, codes of conduct, codes of ethics policies, and whistleblower complaint and investigation procedures, and provide comprehensive training on these practices.
The financial services industry sees more than its share of whistleblower claims, particularly from employees in risk and compliance. We understand the special sensitivities around employees who work in monitoring risk, the oversight of regulators in those areas, and the need for effective whistleblower protections, while guarding against whistleblower lawsuits that might be brought under laws such as the BSA, Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley.
We have seen a significant increase in disputes, lawsuits, and administrative charges filed by compliance officers. Discrimination claims are now often coupled with whistleblower claims, where reputational stakes can be higher and the exposure equally significant.
On the hiring front, our clients have significant obligations to carry out background checks, pursuant to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations, the SAFE Act, Reg. Z, the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, Nationwide Multistate Licensing System and Registry (NMLS) compliance and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). These obligations often conflict with state and local “check-the-box” laws.
We regularly conduct pay equity audits for our financial services clients, in a privileged environment.
The challenge of properly classifying financial services employees as exempt or nonexempt also constantly faces financial services companies, and, hence, they are targeted disproportionately in wage-and-hour class and collective actions.
By virtue of the significant regulatory challenges they face, financial services companies also proportionally retain many more contractors than most employers, which has led to an array of legal questions, such as benefits and joint employer issues.
Littler represents broker-dealers, investment banks, and other financial services firms in employment, expungement and promissory note matters before FINRA arbitration panels and advises on background checks, Form U-4/U-5 issues, and other compliance matters in the highly regulated financial industry. Littler attorneys across the country bring years of experience in successfully litigating before FINRA arbitration panels. Our nationwide footprint allows precise and cost-containing representation, whether the matter is pending in Albuquerque or Anchorage. Learn more about our FINRA practice.
We routinely draft – and defend in litigation – bonus and incentive compensation plans, including equity plans. Additionally, we will guide you through laws such as Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank, and rules emanating from the European Union, that can impose restrictions, including deferral and claw-backs, on executive and incentive compensation.