Yaquinto: ‘Exempt’ CUC employees got OT pay

Several “exempt” employees of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., who are supposedly not entitled to overtime pay, did in fact receive overtime pay, according to former CUC chief financial officer Matthew J. Yaquinto.

Yaquinto, through counsel David G. Banes, said that “exempt” employee like himself and the CUC executive director were not entitled to overtime pay, but that he could nonetheless receive and be paid overtime if his employer approves the pay.

In Yaquinto’s answer to CUC’s counterclaim and affirmative defenses to his lawsuit filed in federal court, Banes said CUC issued certain memoranda and had certain policies related to overtime pay, but that the evidence of what those memoranda state are the memoranda themselves.

Banes said that Yaquinto admits CUC generally did not permit payroll advances, that he initially requested payroll advances, but after learning of this policy decided not to pursue the requests. Banes said Yaquinto denies his requests were turned down.

Yaquinto denies he stripped any CUC official, including the treasurer and chief of accounting, of any oversight or management responsibilities or preventing anyone from performing their duties and responsibilities.

Yaquinto denies “instructing” anyone to pay him overtime.

Banes said that Yaquinto admits he asked CUC to deposit his salary to his bank accounts in Thailand, Russia, and Georgia. Since his accounts were in other countries, these direct deposits required wire transfers, but Yaquinto denied “instructing” anyone to pay him overtime or cash advances.

Yaquinto denies that direct deposits to his accounts required prior approval but admits anyway that CUC did approve of these deposits.

Yaquinto said CUC was not charged for any such deposits.

Yaquinto admits he did request CUC to reimburse him for travel costs, which was a term of his employment contract, and that his travel costs were in fact more than $10,000.

He admits that he provided CUC with receipts for each and every expense he incurred and that he was reimbursed for those amounts.

Banes said any damage suffered or sustained by CUC was caused solely by the conduct of CUC itself or by third persons, entities or parties for those conduct that Yaquinto is not responsible.

Banes said CUC is barred from recovery because, among other things, its own conduct excused or allowed payments to Yaquinto.

Yaquinto asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to dismiss CUC’s counterclaim.
In its counterclaim filed last February, CUC accused Yaquinto of collecting $49,399 in unauthorized overtime pay, causing unauthorized wire transfers of $58,000 to Russia and Thailand, and failing to reimburse $10,000 in moving expenses to Saipan.

CUC, through counsel James S. Sirok, filed the counterclaim against Yaquinto for unauthorized overtime pay, unauthorized wire transfers, and unsupported moving expenses.

CUC asked the court to hold Yaquinto liable to pay back the $49,399 in unauthorized overtime payments, damages representing wire transfer costs, $10,000 in moving expenses, as well as court costs, expert fees, and attorney’s fees.

Yaquinto filed last Dec. 29 a discrimination lawsuit against CUC and five others over his termination as chief financial officer in May 2016.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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