Bed Bath & Beyond Workers Report New 'Punch in the Gut'

First stores closed; now employees say they're being denied severance they thought they'd get
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2023 3:20 PM CDT
More BBB Workers Report Denial of Severance Pay
A Bed, Bath, and Beyond store is seen in Paramus, New Jersey, on February 6.   (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

Back in mid-March, a report emerged that Bed Bath & Beyond—which is closing most of its stores and trying to avoid filing for bankruptcy protection—wasn't planning on paying out severance to laid-off workers, even though it had done so during past layoffs. The news came via Bloomberg, which cited former and current employees, as well as internal documents and other correspondence, per Insider. Then, at the end of last month, Reuters reported that former CEO Mark Tritton, who was fired last June, was suing the home goods chain for reneging on his nearly $6.8 million severance package. Tritton said in his legal filing that the twice-a-month severance payments suddenly came to a halt in January, and that BBB's chief legal officer said it was solely because the company needed to save cash.

Now, more employees are speaking out about being informed they won't be getting severance—despite some initially being told by executives that they would receive it—as well as that the chain doesn't plan on matching annual contributions to their 401(k) retirement plans for all of last year. "I'm heartbroken," Diane Zaccagna, who found out in February the New Jersey location she worked in was shuttering, tells CNN Business. "I'm very disappointed in how they handled it. It was a punch in the gut." In previous layoffs as recently as last year, full-time workers received one week of pay for every year of service, up to 10 weeks (supervisors got 12 weeks). CNN delves into the "gaps in severance protections" that worked against employees for the New Jersey-based company this time around.

One ill-timed event: BBB laid off about 1,300 workers in the Garden State about a week before a new law took effect that mandated severance pay for workers in mass layoffs by large Jersey employers—the first US state to implement such protections. "Every single person in New Jersey knows it's wrong," Zaccagna says of the timing of their firings. Employees in other states are detailing similar severance refusals; there's no federal mandate for such payouts. In a statement, Bed Bath & Beyond didn't remark on the severance issue and said it doesn't usually comment on specific employee matters, though it did note, "Every decision over the past several months has been the product of diligent analysis, advisement, and consideration." More here on the guilt one manager says he feels because he assured his workers they'd get severance, thinking that would be the case. (More Bed Bath & Beyond stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.