They say that a good compromise is one where both parties are dissatisfied. A panel of state Appeals Court judges from the Superior Court of Pennsylvania have affirmed a lower court’s ruling in a million-dollar wage dispute case between a collection agency and its former chief executive officer.
A copy of the ruling in the case of NCB Management Services v. Marcelo Aita can be accessed by clicking here. A copy of a dissenting opinion by one of the three judges on the panel can be accessed by clicking here.
Aita spent nine years as the CEO of NCB Management Services — from June 2008 to July 2017. In December 2014, the parties signed an agreement that paid Aita $60,000 per month for the next 17 months as long as he remained the company’s CEO.
For six months, the company paid the bonus on time. But, for the remaining 11 months of the agreement, the company failed to make the payments to Aita. In July 2017, the company paid Aita for 10 of the months he was owed, plus 6% interest. In October 2017, Aita was paid the final $60,000 plus 6% interest.
In February 2019, Aita sued the company, alleging it breached the contract and violated state law in Pennsylvania for failing to pay his wages in a timely manner. Both sides filed motions for summary judgment — with Aita seeking an additional $180,000, which represented 25% of the $720,000 that was not paid in a timely manner. A judge denied the agency’s motion for summary judgment and granted Aita’s motion, but only awarded him $60,000, because some of the missed payments were outside the law’s three year statute of limitations.
Both sides appealed the ruling.
The agency argued that the law in question applied only when the wages in question were not paid when the lawsuit was filed. The law states that employees whose wages are payable may institute actions. The appeals court looked up the definition of “payable” and saw that it means “when” something should be paid. Under NCB’s argument, “An employer could drag its feet for months on end and escape liability for liquidated damages by finally paying the employee’s due and payable wages immediately before the employee files suit,” the Appeals Court wrote.
Regarding how much Aita was entitled to, the appeals court noted that the lower court was correct in ruling that NCB never acknowledged a duty to pay liquidated damages under the law.