WASHINGTON (CN) - A class of retired Defense Department employees says the Pentagon refused to pay their departure bonuses by selectively interpreting its own regulations. They say the Pentagon fails to inform retiring employees that they need to stay on the job until the beginning of the first pay period in January to qualify for the bonus.
The Superior Court complaint cites the National Defense Authorization Act of 2004, which created a performance-based pay structure that was meant to give pay increases to hard-working employees, not just those who had been around the longest.
The class claims this law set the payout date for salary increases during the first pay period in January of each year, but the Pentagon has interpreted the law so that employees who retire before January are shown the door without a bonus.
"There is no basis in the regulations for DOD's arbitrary application of the January effective date for an increase in base salary to the payment of bonuses."
Ralph Price, class representative and a Pentagon civilian employee for 36 years, says he retired on Jan. 3, 2009, one day before the first pay period of the year. He says the Pentagon stiffed him for his $4,777 bonus.
Price is suing on behalf of all retired and departing Pentagon employees for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and bad faith. He and the class want an order forcing the Defense Department to pay their performance-based bonuses and an injunction prohibiting the Pentagon from denying future retirees their bonuses.
They are represented by Lisa Bertini of Bertini O'Donnell.
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