Court Update: ErgoGroup Admits I’m Right!

So, I’ve been to court, and thought it would make sense to update everyone on what happened. I’m sure you’ll find the former articles adequate reading if you need to update yourself on the history.

By the way, I really, really, really appreciate all the support I’ve gotten, both on Twitter, in emails, and in comments. Keep it coming!

Our meeting today was in a settlement court, or conciliation board, in which the primary goal is to reach a settlement. As I predicted, the negotiations were short. As I explained earlier, I have tried offering ErgoGroup a ‘get our of jail free’ card, and they didn’t bite. In fact, in their written response to the court, they still claimed they owed me nothing, as per the elusive standard bonus terms.

So, imagine my surprise when ErgoGroup, when given a chance to address the judges, plainly and in no uncertain terms, said that everything I claimed in the lawsuit was correct.

Yeah, there’s still this one single thing they don’t admit, and that’s basically how to add numbers together, but beyond that, they simply said I was right in everything. Despite writing to the court that everything I said was wrong.

Go figure.

The main issue now, according to ErgoGroup, is how to calculate the bonus. So if you’ll please bear with me for a couple of paragraphs, I’ll explain where the matter stands right now. I’ll clearly state where we are in disagreement, so, at least if their testimony today was correct, we agree on anything that’s not explicitly stated as contested.

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When I signed on, I said I would need a salary per year of 1 million NOK (about 150K US dollars). Yeah, that’s high, but I knew I would generate at least three times that in revenue for them, so it would be easy money.

ErgoGroup couldn’t give me that sum in a fixed salary so they gave me approximately 100K US dollars as a fixed salary and I would be given a bonus, which, for the simplicity of calculation, would be approximately 40% of anything above 2,54 times my base salary (let’s call this the bonus base). That may be a bit complex math, so let me illustrate with an example.

I my base salary is 1 million NOK then my bonus base would be 2,54 million NOK. If I billed clients 3 million, I would get 40% of the difference between 2,54 million and 3 million (460K NOK), or approximately 30K, as a bonus in addition to my fixed salary.

If you would like a more accurate calculation for October for example, my billed amount was (or should have been) 310K NOK. My base salary was 55K NOK per month, times 2,54 gives a bonus base of ~140K NOK, meaning I should get 40% of 310K minus 140K, or 68K NOK in bonus. Plus my base salary,I should have gotten 123K NOK for October. As I mentioned, I got no bonus at all, so just the base salary of 55K NOK.

Each month I would send a simple spreadsheet to my boss with my calculations of my bonus for the previous month, along with a request to have a part of that bonus paid out. I based the numbers I sent on the billing amount from the invoicing system, even though I argued that these numbers were lower that the ‘real’ billable numbers. ErgoGroup admitted in court today that when doing their versions of the calculations, they even increased the billable amounts I had used. I think that was a nice gesture, so thank you for that.

So far, we agree on everything. Surprisingly.

However, and this is the contested bit, what ErgoGroup claims now was that this was never intended to be paid or even calculated per month but rather per year. I still haven’t figured out exactly how they do their calculations, but somehow, they end up claiming they owe me roughly 40K NOK. My claim was that when adding the bonus I should have gotten each month, I should have gotten 111K NOK.

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Here’s another curiosity. December contains Christmas here in Norway, and despite the Christmas week being a regular work week, mostly, ErgoGroup forces employees to not work that week. Because we don’t work, we don’t bill clients, and because we don’t bill clients, the bonus we get for December is ridiculously low. In my case, however, I begged one of my clients to allow me to work during Christmas, and they agreed, so I did actually exceed by bonus base, despite the accident my father-in-law had.

Back to today’s court case.

The settlement court can now make one of two decisions. They can say that this matter is too complex for them to rule and defer the case to an upper court, the district court. If they do, the do so within two weeks from now.

The other option is for the court to rule in either party’s favor, in which case they will rule within four weeks.

Regardless of what happens, I strongly suspect that I will need to face ErgoGroup again in the district court. If I lose, I will definitely appeal to the district court. if ErgoGroup loses, I strongly suspect that they will appeal to the district court. If the court defers the case, I need to bring it before the district court.

The only case in which we will not meet in district court now is if ErgoGroup loses and admits defeat. I doubt that will happen, though, considering they had that chance several weeks ago (the offer of ‘get out of jail free, remember), with much better terms than a ruling in court will give them.

So, within two weeks I know if there will be a ruling, and within four weeks I’ll know if I am right in my lawsuit.

Thanks again for all your support.

.b

PS: ErgoGroups lawyer felt the need to ask the judges if they could silence my blogging about what had been said in court, to which the judges said, more or less, ‘what happens in here is public knowledge, or at least will be’, before mentioning that they had read or at least knew about my blog.

At least that part was funny Smile

PPS: As always, I invite and strongly encourage ErgoGroup to post both comments or even extensive statements about their side of the case. Email me your statements and I’ll post them both verbatim and translated. Silence isn’t always golden, you know. It can also be pitch black and lonely.

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Bjørn Furuknap

I previously did SharePoint. These days, I try new things to see where I can find the passion. If you have great ideas, cool projects, or is in general an awesome person, get in touch and we might find out together.

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