Firm to pay workers $14 million in back wages

According to this AP wire report a tentative settlement has been reached in the class action Wage Payment & Collection Act suit against ICT Group, Inc. This is disappointing for those of us who were hoping there would be a published appellate opinion regarding the viability of Cooper v. Glavas Contracting Co., 354 S.E.2d 822 (W.Va. 1987).

A literal reading of the WPCA would require an employer to pay an employee 30 days of full wages for leaving a nickel off of the employee's paycheck. The 1987 Cooper decision held that such an interpretation was untenable, and in a case where 2.5% of an employee's monthly wages were improperly withheld, the court awarded a like amount in liquidated damages. The circuit judge in the ICT case opted not to follow Cooper.

Although this article does not mention the actual amount of the underpayment to the 12,000 employees involved, I recall reading that it was in the neighborhood of $250,000. If that recollection is correct, the settlement was 59 times the actual back wages. Ouch. The WPCA is in desparate need of reform on the liquidated damages issue.