Nearly three weeks after laying off around 100 employees in light of this COVID-19 pandemic, and Paradigm has responded to harsh criticisms by establishing a $1.1M employee relief fund. It also follows a $2 million wrongful termination suit against the agency, chairman and CEO Sam Gores by former agent Debbee Klein.
In a company wide letter from Gores, he announced to the employees who were laid off, who from the beginning were told they would be hired back when possible, would have their healthcare covered through June. Gores also announced he is forgoing the remainder of his salary for 2020 – adding that he would continue to do so “beyond if necessary.”
Gores’ full letter to the agency is below.
I am committed to improving our flow of communication as we weather this uncertain time. The difficult and urgent actions we took on March 20th were the hardest of my 37-year career.
Paradigm’s great strength is its enormously talented staff. It always has been and always will be. The vital and significant actions we took, though necessary for the health of the company, were hard and painful. And while immediate action was required, I realize that the way the message was conveyed to you lacked compassion and made you feel alienated from Paradigm.
You are part of this team because we believe in your talent, and we hope that you will be the people who will help build Paradigm’s future after the COVID crisis. From the beginning, we have considered these layoffs temporary and it bears repeating that our intention is to bring as many of you back as possible.
Over the past weeks, we have been working to mitigate the effects of these temporary layoffs and provide extended benefits, comfort, and assistance as we prepare for this pandemic to end and go back to work as a community at the agency I’m proud to call my home.
• Paradigm has established a $1.1M Employee Relief Fund to provide additional support of our temporarily laid off employees. We will have further details regarding this fund on or before Friday, April 10.
• Your health care coverage has been extended through the end of June and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.
• Your Human Resources Team is available seven days a week to answer any questions you may have on benefits coverage including access to Telehealth options and our Employee Assistance Program (“EAP”). [HR info redacted]
• Our intention is to support you as a member of the Paradigm family. Our desire is to help our teams and help you maintain your books of business. If you have any questions regarding the structure that has been put in place to support agents and their team members who have been temporarily laid off, please contact your office leader or department head.
The coronavirus has affected almost every business in the world and certainly our industry. When months of film and television productions, concerts, tours, and festivals were cancelled or postponed overnight, every aspect of our business was dramatically impacted. I thought you’d like to know about several actions Paradigm has taken to ensure that the company remains on solid ground.
• Paradigm has secured interim financing that will provide a bridge through this global crisis.
• Paradigm has signed a new franchise agreement with the Writers Guild of America, allowing the agency to resume representation of its WGA-represented film and TV writer clients. Paradigm is the first major talent agency engaged in television packaging to sign a new franchise agreement with the WGA. This is a huge step forward in a situation that stretches back almost two years. In signing the agreement, it enables our literary agents to re-sign our writer clients and get them back to work.
• I have forgone my salary for the remainder of 2020, and beyond if necessary.
• Like all other agencies industry wide, staff above Coordinator level are working at reduced wages until business picks up again.
I am deeply sorry about the financial impact this crisis has had on so many of our colleagues, friends, and families as we confront one of the most urgent health and economic challenges of the modern era.
I’ll contact you again on or before Friday with more information about the Employee Relief Fund. Stay safe, stay well, and we’ll continue to be in touch and keep you informed regarding our efforts on your behalf.
Warmly and with great respect,
Sam Gores, Chairman & CEO