"Whether to award prejudgment interest [is] placed in the
sound discretion of the district courts." Lodges 743 and 1746
v. United Aircraft, 534 F.2d 422, 446 (2d Cir. 1975), cert.
denied, 429 U.S. 825, 97 S.Ct. 79, 50 L.Ed.2d 87 (1976). In
exercising this discretion, the court must weigh the relative
equities between the beneficiaries and those upon whom the
obligation is imposed "`in accordance with the historic
judicial principle'" that employees suffering from another's
breach of a financial obligation should be made whole. E.E.O.C.
v. County of Erie, 751 F.2d 79, 81 (2d Cir. 1984) (quoting
Rodgers v. United States, 332 U.S. 371, 373, 68 S.Ct. 5, 7, 92
L.Ed. 3 (1947)); see also United Aircraft, 534 F.2d at 447 ("a
vital ingredient in the determination whether to award
prejudgment interest is a desire to make whole the party
injured by the breach"). While the good faith of the employer
may be taken into account by the district court in deciding
whether interest should be awarded, the existence of good faith
does not automatically render an award of interest improper.
E.E.O.C., 751 F.2d at 81. Wages are for most persons
fundamental requirements for the purchase of basic necessities.
Thus, an employee from whom wages are wrongfully withheld is
customarily entitled not only to the amount of those wages,
"but also to compensation for the delay in receiving those
wages." Id. at 82.
Plaintiffs have been denied the use of money that should have
been paid to them beginning in early November of 1990. "In
these days in which all of us feel the effects of inflation, it
is almost unnecessary to reiterate that only if such interest
is awarded will a person wrongfully deprived of his money be
made whole for the loss." Waterside Ocean Navigation Co. v.
International Navigation Ltd., 737 F.2d 150, 152 (2d Cir.
1984). Accordingly, this Court has awarded interest to be paid,
based on an annual rate of interest of nine percent, from March
13, 1991 to the date the lagged wages are paid. The nine
percent rate of interest reflects that currently paid by the
United States Treasury Department on tax refunds.
For ease of calculation, the Court has ordered the interest
to be computed from March 13, 1991, the last date on which
checks reflecting the withholding of lagged moneys were
received. This obviates the need to engage in the complex
calculations required to determine separate amounts of interest
based on each paycheck received in the relevant twenty-week
period, and instead allows computation of interest for the
entire sum of lagged wages for each employee. The percentage of
interest awarded, which is higher than that currently paid by
money market funds or savings accounts, sufficiently
compensates plaintiffs for the fact that they have been
deprived of wages beginning in November 7, 1990.
IT IS SO ORDERED.