Why EDB ErgoGroup Is Going Down – Big Time! (Yeah, I Won)

As you’ve all heard by now, I’ve been fighting ErgoGroup over missing salary payments from when I worked for them in 2009. Check the bottom of this article on the web for the full series of events.

You may also recall that we’ve faced off in court and I’m here to present the results and plans for the future.

First of all, and most importantly, ErgoGroup was slashed down in court. Yup, I won, I was right all along, and ErgoGroup now officially and as determined by law tried to screw me over. 

The judges said, plain and simple, that ErgoGroup made the mistakes and that the responsibility lay with them as the professional party in this case. ErgoGroup was sentenced to pay, no more, no less.

However, what the judges didn’t agree with me was the sum I should get. Despite documenting the claims in detail, the judged reduced my claim by about US$5K.

I’m not happy with that, because my pledge is to fight until ErgoGroup has paid every cent they owe me. As such, I’m contemplating appealing the decision to a higher court, the District Court of Oslo, to get my money.

Oh, but that’s not everything. It gets much, much better. Or worse, if you’re ErgoGroup.

You see, as I explained in a previous post, I am confident that the contract they gave me is illegal. In short, Norwegian precedence and laws require that taking a risk should also include a possibility for reward. The bonus contract that ErgoGroup had only stated that if ErgoGroup didn’t make enough money, then every employee would forfeit their payments. If, on the other hand, ErgoGroup made several truckloads of money, employees would still get only what they were promised, with no possibility for additional reward.

Because I don’t want to reveal all the details about what exact claims and laws I’ll use, I won’t go into further detail here, but I’ve spent days and nights scouring past cases and laws to make sure I win when the case comes up in the District Court.

Let me explain how the bonus scheme in ErgoGroup works.

Want to Get $10,000? Read On!

Here’s how this will work: I’ll hire you to work for me, for $10,000. You’ll do some task, doesn’t really matter for this explanation.

So far, this sounds like a fairly straight-forward working contract, right? You do some piece of work and get paid for doing that piece of work.

Here’s the twist: you won’t get paid yet. In fact, you may not get paid at all.

Next year, if I have a good time, determined by having more than $20,000 in the bank, I’ll pay you for your work. If I don’t have $20,000 in the bank, you get squat for your work.

That’s right, if I waste my money, you get nothing, but if I save, you still only get what I promised you.

Because there’s a chance I won’t pay you, I’ll call what you get ‘a bonus’. After all, if there’s a chance you won’t get paid, then getting paid is a bonus, right?

So, you’re risking your pay for your work, based solely on whether I do well. That’s the risk part.

Note: Contrary to ErgoGroup, I’m actually telling you this up front. They didn’t tell me until after I quit the company when they refused to pay because I quit.

Oh, and in this case, you’d get paid $4,000, but would still gamble with $6,000.

You’d expect that if you’re taking such a risk, there would be a huge reward as well. After all, if you gamble with all your money at a casino, there is at least a chance you’ll walk away with more money. If you put all your money in the lottery, you’ll have a chance in a million that you’ll win big!

Not so with ErgoGroup’s model. You take the risk, but can get no reward. No matter how well ErgoGroup does, you only get what you’ve been promised as a salary. If they make billions, even if you’re the one making them all that money, you just get your salary.

That’s risk with no reward, and I believe it is illegal.

So, when I do go to the District Court, I’ll claim an additional $500 for the risk ErgoGroup forced me to take with my bonus payments.

What? All This Over Just $500?

Well, it’s not just a matter of me. If the contract is illegal and I win in the District Court, every bonus contract for every employee over the entire lifespan of that bonus system is also illegal. ErgoGroup had 3.000 employees who were under that contract for more than three years. My $500 is only for five months, so if you scale that number to 3.000 employees over 36 months, you’ll reach approximately $10.8 million, and yes, that’s in US$.

Even worse, because ErgoGroup just a couple of months ago merged with another IT giant in Norway, a publicly traded company, the combined company EDB ErgoGroup is now traded at the Oslo Stock Exchange (OSE: EDBASA).

On October 19, the combined EDB ErgoGroup presented their third quarter results, with a profit of approximately US$33M for the year so far. Because a risk of over $10 million would seriously impact the bottom line of the company, if nothing else, EDB ErgoGroup must inform the stock exchange about this case, bringing further shame to their already tainted reputation.

Actually, since my rate of bonus payment was very high, the number would be lower, but would still be several million US$, even if the average employee would get only a third of the bonus I was promised.

Of course, their shareholders won’t be pleased with that either. This won’t affect their bottom line, but I can assure you that the thousands of shareholders won’t appreciate their money being flushed out the window, just because EDB ErgoGroup tried to screw me over for a few thousand bucks.

There’s a second concern here too. If I win my claim, ErgoGroup risks falling below the magic ‘no-pay’ barrier that I’ve described earlier. Considering ErgoGroup was losing money before the merger and that the combined EDB ErgoGroup company also lost money in Q3 and have huge costs this year related to the merger, there’s a very good chance the company won’t make enough money to reach that barrier where employees get paid.

What that means is that every employee risks their bonus payments for 2010.

If I were those employees, I’d either quit on the spot or at least I wouldn’t work another hour until that deal changes. Effectively, those employees will be working for free for as much as several months of the year, depending on how good they are and how much bonus they would have gotten. For me, considering I would get approximately 60% of my salary as ‘bonus’ it would mean I would work from the middle of May through December 31 without getting paid.

Winners take the fall in ErgoGroup, but you already knew that.

So, if I were you, and you owned stock in EDB ErgoGroup, I would sell, right now, before even more shit hits every fan I can find. If I were you and I worked in ErgoGroup, I would question whether I was willing to work that much of the year for free. If not, I’d get the hell out of there.

If, after consulting with my attorney, I decide to take this further, the press releases go out as soon as I get the receipt from the District Court.

You ain’t seen nothing yet.

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Learning SharePoint at USPJA. Part 2: USPJA Versus Traditional SharePoint Training

Today, I was talking to one author in the USPJA system, explaining why our teaching methods are different than what you’d find in traditional learning formats.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that class room training is better or worse than what we do, but we do have different approaches to building knowledge.

First of all, USPJA is a university, meaning our approach to teaching is more like a traditional college than a normal computer class. What that also means is that we are more focused on pointing the way rather than explaining how to walk. Although not directly the same, it would be closer to saying to a class room that “Here’s what you’re going to learn this week. Here are some recommended resources, and here’s what I expect you to be able to do after you’re done. Now, get started!”

A very important philosophy of USPJA is to build SharePoint professionals. A good SharePoint professional, however, isn’t measured by how many tasks he or she can perform, but rather how well they are able to understand a problem space and apply good practices to solving that problem. We teach people how to find, utilize, and digest information more than we teach specific steps.

Of course, this isn’t the only thing we teach, there’s plenty of step-by-step instructions, videos, books, and journals, meant both to illustrate key learning points and to inspire creativity. However, you’ll find few recipes for solving specific problems at USPJA. Our faculty members are even encouraged to avoid answering specific questions even if they know the answer. Instead they should direct the student to where they can find the information they need, either in our own library or in external sources. This in turn teaches the student to be self-sufficient and from that, gain confidence and knowledge that last long after the stop studying at the academy.

For example, rather than teaching how to build a client taxonomy in SharePoint, we’ll teach you the tools you need, explain the principles of a good taxonomy, and show you how different components of SharePoint work together to support any type of taxonomy. We’ll show you or provide you with the resources you need. Then, if you want to implement a client taxonomy or any other type of taxonomy, you’ll know how to do so.

One of the team assignments for my class in Beginning SharePoint Development basically reads: “To complete the team assignments for this class, you should first come up with a problem to solve, then solve that problem using all the major components taught in this class.” From that, the students need to work together to come up with a problem that SharePoint can solve, and then design and implement the solution using what they learn and find during the class.

So, in other words, we’re not teaching recipes, we’re teaching how to be chefs :-)

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Brilliant SharePoint Administrator Wanted: USPJA Faculty Substitute

Please help me spread the word.

Laura Docherty is a USPJA Faculty member and highly pregnant, due to give birth in just a month or so. As such, she’s taken a maternity leave from her faculty duties at the academy, and I need to find her temporary replacement.

Here’s the ad:

Wanted: USPJA Administrator Faculty Member

For temporary or permanent substitution, we are looking for a new USPJ Academy faculty member in the field of SharePoint administration. 

Job Description

USPJ Academy faculty members are highly skilled and experienced SharePoint professionals and trainers. Our focus is on providing the best quality training available online using our existing state-of-the-art e-learning platform.

A USPJA faculty member is responsible for facilitating online collaborative classes for students at USPJ Academy plus actively participating in the academy community. Course facilitation means working with existing course material and assist students in their learning goals in time-limited online classes. All activities happen online and asynchronously so no real-time participation is required in classes.

Faculty members will be trained in our operations and platform and are expected to adhere to our faculty and campus guidelines.

This job is a temporary replacement for another faculty member who is on maternity leave. However, for the right candidate, the position may become permanent. The position is vacant now so you should expect to being work quickly.

Expected work load is 10-15 hours per week, so you can work in other positions and for other employers as your time permits.

Responsibilities

You will be responsible for facilitating collaborative classes using existing training material. This means you will be required to be regularly responding to student feedback in class, guide students that need further clarification (although not necessarily provide answers), as well as function as an overall mentor for the duration of the class. This includes providing or referencing additional training material for students who may need that.

You will not be responsible for creating course content, although you will have the opportunity to add or modify the course content as required. Suggestions for permanent changes to course content are welcomed.

You will also be required to actively participate in the academy community, primarily through the campus forums.

Finally, you must attend weekly, real-time faculty meetings, held each Monday at 1800 CET/CEST.

Qualifications

You are a highly skilled and probably recognized SharePoint administrator. Previous training experience, either in class-room or online environments, is a huge benefit, but not required.

Previous experience with e-learning solutions is a benefit, but not required. Community work, such as speaking engagements at local or national events is a benefit, but not required.

You must have documented experience with real-life projects.

You must speak and write English fluently.

You must be able to respond daily to students requests.

You must be available for weekly faculty meetings, Mondays at 1800 CET/CEST

USPJ Academy is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes all genders and nationalities.

Location

All USPJA activities happen online, so you can work from wherever you are. Your application should include your local time zone, however.

Application Deadline

Please submit your application no later than December 31st, 2010. We reserve the right to end the deadline sooner if we find the right candidate.

We will contact any eligible candidates for an interview as soon as time permits.

For candidates who do not meet the minimum requirements, we thank you for your application, but we can not accept you.

Application Instructions

Please submit a resume and application document to dean@uspja.com in Microsoft Word, PDF, or ODF format, using the subject “Faculty Member Application”. You can also submit an application using our online application form.

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