Case Summaries: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit


Unvested Shares Are Not Wages Under MWPCL

Hillary J. Kunda v. C.R. Bard, Inc., No. 09-1809 (4 th

Cir. Dec. 23, 2011).

GREGORY, Circuit Judge:

Hillary Kunda brought suit against her former employer, C.R. Bard, Inc. ("Bard"), alleging that Bard violated Maryland law when at the time of her termination, it failed to pay her for unvested shares earned through the company’s long-term profit sharing plan. She argued that despite a New Jersey choice-of-law provision in the plan agreement, Maryland law applies to the contract because the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law ("MWPCL") constitutes a fundamental Maryland public policy.

The district court granted Bard’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on which relief may be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The court found that New Jersey law applies to the contract because the MWPCL is not a fundamental public policy of Maryland and that the unvested shares are not wages under New Jersey law. Furthermore, the court held that even if Maryland law applied, the unvested shares are not wages under the MWPCL and thus were never owed to Kunda. As explained below, we affirm the district court’s decision.



We cannot hold, as Kunda advocates, that her unvested Premium Units are converted into wages in the limited situation where an employee is terminated without cause. Thus, we affirm the district court’s grant of Bard’s motion to dismiss.

– submitted by Tom Gagliardo