The law firm of Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer failed in its efforts to defeat a lawsuit filed against it by two of its former partners. The former partners claimed the firm fired them for objecting to a class action settlement. A New Jersey Appellate judge affirmed a previous motion denial to compel arbitration claims lodged by the former employees.
According to court documents and the decision, there were a series of suits concerning underpayment of medical claims filed by the two former employees. They were with another firm when that occurred, but joined Wilentz Goldman in July 2007. A portion of the claims were against Aetna and filed by health care providers who claimed the companies had underpaid benefits.
Court documents stated the two attorneys objected to the settlement with Aetna and contended it was financially inadequate and was accepted by the firm just to ensure an attorney fee award. The settlement was subsequently withdrawn.
The attorney claim they were fired in June 2013 without any kind of explanation and believed it was related to the refusal to participate in the class action settlement. They filed their lawsuit under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act. The two formed a law firm after leaving Wilentz Goldman, but one later left the firm.
In response to the claim, the firm referred to part of its shareholder agreement that required employees settle disputes through arbitration in accordance with the American Arbitration Association. The attorneys argued they were not under the agreement because it did not govern post-separation disputes.