Online mortgage lender Better.com has reportedly doubled the severance pay for the hundreds of workers who the chief executive callously laid off last week over a now-viral three-minute Zoom call.
The 900 some laid-off employees will now get 60 days of pay, up from the four weeks initially announced, according to Insider.
The boosted separation packages came as law firms began to circle, eager to sign affected employees on to a class-action lawsuit against Better, the outlet reported.
Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith, a law firm that specializes in class-action suits, said on its website that it’s “investigating” a case against Better for allegedly violating the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires that certain companies provide written notice to workers at least 60 days before layoffs.
However, the firm reversed course after the company increased its severance pay, the report said.
“They decided to extend the severance period, and it just so happens to have coincided with the WARN Act framework to give employees 60 days notice, so we decided not to pursue it anymore, at least for the WARN Act damages,” an attorney for the firm, Benjamin Johns, told Insider.
“We were looking to do something to help these employees who were abruptly treated so horribly. Even if we didn’t file a suit, if we had some little piece or part of this, we consider that a victory,” he said, referring to Better’s decision to extend its severance offer.
Separately, though, an unnamed laid-off employee told Insider that they’re still working with a different law firm on another potential class-action suit.
The company did not immediately return The Post’s request for comment.
Better.com’s CEO Vishal Garg ruthlessly laid off some 900 employees on a Zoom call last Wednesday — before then slamming the hundreds of the ex-workers for allegedly “stealing from our customers” by not being productive.
In the wake of the mass termination, which was posted on TikTok and YouTube, at least three top executives have resigned from the company, Insider first reported.
The high-level departures were directly related to Garg’s handling of the layoffs and his reportedly divisive management style, Insider reported.
“Anyone who is leaving right now, these are folks that have tried to make it work, and given their all to a company they believe in, but who ultimately get undermined by a CEO that doesn’t take advice from anyone and believes he’s always right,” a source familiar with Garg told Insider.
The 43-year-old CEO said that the “market has changed” and that the company had to slim down to remain nimble enough to adapt to the evolving housing market, which appears to be cooling after a pandemic-boosted boom.
However, Garg didn’t mention on the call the company’s $750 million cash infusion it got from investors last week.
Insider reported that Garg then addressed the rest of the company’s employees shortly after the layoffs were announced, saying, “We should have done this three months ago.”
The company had hired the “wrong people” and had lost $100 million the previous quarter, he went on.
The CEO was later outed as the anonymous author of a scathing blog post that slammed Better.com employees on the professional network Blind.
“You guys know that at least 250 of the people terminated were working an average of 2 hours a day while clocking 8 hours+ a day in the payroll system?” the father of three wrote.
“They were stealing from you and stealing from our customers who pay the bills that pay our bills. Get educated,” he added.
Garg reportedly has built a reputation for having high expectations and punishing employees over tiny infractions.
Office managers were once reportedly criticized for failing to keep the mini-fridge stocked with Fiji and Perrier water, according to Forbes.
In another email obtained by Forbes last year, Garg wrote: ‘You are TOO DAMN SLOW. You are a bunch of DUMB DOLPHINS and…DUMB DOLPHINS get caught in nets and eaten by sharks. SO STOP IT. STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. YOU ARE EMBARRASSING ME.”
Separately, the company is also pushing back its plans to go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company by the end of the year, Bloomberg reported.
Better.com became a pandemic darling as city dwellers sought to flee to greener and larger spaces in the suburbs, fueling a boom in the housing market and associated lenders.
The company had announced in May that it planned to go public through a SPAC, or special-purpose acquisition company, at a $7.7 billion valuation.