July 06, 2023

Senators Warren, Booker Call for Severance Pay and Benefits for Employees Following Bed Bath & Beyond Bankruptcy and Layoffs

“We are seeking further information about Bed Bath & Beyond’s “intentional… calculated, and … disgraceful” attempts to evade requirements that it pay severance to its workers, and its plans to treat workers fairly.”

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. – United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) sent a letter to Bed Bath & Beyond CEO Sue Gove following reports that the company attempted to avoid paying severance to its workers during the store closings leading up to its bankruptcy after spending more than $11 billion in stock buybacks since 2004.

Following years of declining profits, Bed Bath & Beyond declared bankruptcy in April of this year. Despite the more than $11 billion paid out in buybacks, the company is now attempting to avoid paying severance to its thousands of laid-off workers. In February 2022, Bed, Bath & Beyond reported spending $230 million on stock buybacks over the course of three months, just months before closing its stores. 

“While your company has, under enormous public pressure, reversed course in New Jersey and agreed to recognize the newly expanded protections, employees in other states are still left without protection and have reported being stiffed on severance and other benefits they were owed,” wrote the lawmakers.

After revenues dropped 16% from 2019 to 2020, the company continued engaging in its aggressive stock buyback strategy. In their letter, the lawmakers request that Bed Bath & Beyond answer questions on its actions leading up to their bankruptcy declaration in addition to providing severance and benefits for its employees.

“Your company has a responsibility to your workers, and it’s clear that after years of putting profits for shareholders ahead of those responsibilities, and endangering the health of its business, Bed Bath & Beyond is still failing to do even the bare minimum to treat employees fairly in the bankruptcy process,” concluded the lawmakers.

Senator Warren is an outspoken advocate for worker’s rights and holding giant corporations accountable for violating labor protections: 

  • In September 2022, Senator Warren joined Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in sending a letter to Corbel Capital Partners’ CEO Jeffrey Schwartz in support of workers affected by the recent and unexpected closure of LandAir.
  • In November 2021, Senator Warren and Representative Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) sent a letter to BC Partners, the private equity firm that owns PetSmart, regarding reports that cost-cutting measures and mismanagement of the company have endangered the safety of both PetSmart’s workers and pets entrusted in PetSmart’s care.
  • In July 2020, Senators Warren and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), along with Representative Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Brooks Brothers Group, Inc. Chairman and CEO Claudio Del Vecchio requesting that the company provide fair severance to the 413 employees set to be laid off at the company’s Southwick facility in the coming weeks.
  • In July 2019, Senator Warren and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to private equity firm Sun Capital expressing alarm about reports that the firm, after years of looting the discount retailer Shopko and then driving it into bankruptcy, plans to break its promise to make severance payments to thousands of dedicated Shopko employees.
  • In October 2018, she demanded answers from Vornado Realty Trust and five hedge funds on their role in the liquidation of Toys "R" Us, which resulted in 30,000 workers losing their jobs without severance pay-after it was revealed that the company's bankruptcy was the result of the leveraged buyout of the company in 2005 by two private equity firms.