As you may have read in my previous post describing my ErgoGroup experience, I’m taking ErgoGroup to court for failing to pay me what they owe. That’s my story, at least, and I’m sticking with it.
In short, ErgoGroup promised me a bonus because their internal policies did not allow them to give me a fixed salary that would suffice to take me away from other work. Only after I resigned because they failed to pay me what I expected did they present a contract that stated that I would forfeit any bonus if I resigned.
The court date has been set for November 9, 2010. This time, the court is a settlement court, in which we should try to reach a settlement through negotiations, and if not, the court will decide. I’m expecting a long period of appeals and lawyer bills, but I’m dug in on this one, so I’m sticking with it, regardless of outcome.
Negotiations will be short, however, and I’ll get back to that in a few moments, but first I’d like to clarify why I’m writing this blog post.
You see, the way ErgoGroup treated me is only part of the questionable ethics of that company. To warm up for the first court appearance, I intend to post a couple of blog posts to expose what I believe are destructive and immoral behavior, both towards customers and employees.
This time, however, I plan to clarify why I believe the negotiations in court will be short. You see, I’ve already offered ErgoGroup a chance to walk away, unscarred and without paying me a dime. I’ve even offered to help them promote that the case is done and settled.
What? You’re Crazy!
Yeah, you heard right. I’ve given ErgoGroup a chance to stop this case without paying me anything, and because I expect that suggestion to become public knowledge soon enough, I want to clarify what happened, what my offer included, and why I offered it.
A few weeks ago, I met one of my former bosses at ErgoGroup during a SharePint. We quickly agreed to leave the case alone and have fun, so we did. A few days later, I got an email from the former boss, asking whether he and I could sit down and go through the case again and try to reach a settlement.
It took me a few weeks to respond because I didn’t know what to respond. What I proposed may seem surprising, though.
My response (I’m not copying it verbatim here because it’s in Norwegian), after explaining why I was pissed at them, was that I don’t really care about getting that money for myself. I want them to realize that they made a grave mistake and also to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.
As such, my proposal was that they wrote a statement, signed by their HR director, saying just that: We screwed up, we’re sorry, but we’ll try to improve. In addition, they’ll pay my lawyer fees.
In return, I’ll waiver all other claims, and even publish their letter of apology on my blog to let the world know they work to improve and that we’ve cleared the matter.
In short, they don’t pay squat, except the legal costs they’ve caused me, and get to say “We’re sorry” publicly.
They declined, citing that the matter has now gone too far to settle without involving even more lawyer time, and instead asked that we had our lawyers meet to discuss other options. Because I’ve already offered them to get away for free, I’m not sure what they expect me to give them more, unless they want me to pay them for not paying me.
But… But… Why?
Why did they decline or why did I offer them to get away free?
I can’t answer for ErgoGroup, but it is crystal clear to me now that they’re not interested settling this at all. And frankly, I can’t understand why. I mean, there’s a huge risk that they’ll lose in court, meaning that their practices were illegal and they risk immense litigation. I’ve spoken to a number of former ErgoGroup employees lately, and many cite the same treatment; many of those may be a potential lawsuit if ErgoGroup loses to me.
Why I offered them the deal may be an equal mystery, but at least I’m here to explain why.
You see, I am honestly sick and tired of this case. I can’t say it’s worth the money, so money is no motivation anymore. Also, although I have an insanely skilled lawyer and learn a lot from this process, I can’t say I enjoy shelling out big bucks to keep lawyers occupied.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: I believe ErgoGroup screwed me over, and I’m not going to take that sitting down. To me, the principle is important. If ErgoGroup is to blame, and I am legally right, ErgoGroup needs to take the consequences. Admitting that would have been enough, really, at least until I realized that they weren’t interested in settling at all. I’ve also learned a number of other things in this case that has caused me to reconsider. I may blog about that later.
Oh, and in case there’s any doubt: My offer of ‘get out of jail free’ has expired. Thoroughly. If the offer was made of milk, it would be cheese by now. I want my money, or rather, I want them to pay.
So, we’re finally scheduled to meet in court. Negotiations will be short. I’ve already offered them everything I possibly can, and they didn’t bite.
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