Bernard J. Avellino, M. M. Westerman, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Blank, Rome, Klaus & Comisky, Goncer M. Krestal, William E. Taylor, III, Alan C. Gershenson, Philadelphia, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, C. J., dissents.
In June of 1972, appellant, Salvatore Portare, was discharged from his employment at Kardon Industries, Inc., and advised that his share of a certain profit sharing
plan was being forfeited. Such forfeiture was permissible under the plan if the employee was discharged for:
". . . dishonesty, disclosing trade secrets, gross insubordination, gross inefficiency, commission of a felony, or any wilful act committed with the intent of injuring [the company] . . ."
Relying on provisions of the profit sharing trust agreement in effect at the time, appellant filed a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association in December of 1973. The appellees, who are the trustees of the profit sharing trust, then filed a complaint in equity seeking to enjoin the arbitration sought by the appellant. Appellant filed preliminary objections in the nature of a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. This motion was denied, the trial court holding that equity had jurisdiction to determine the dispute between the parties. This appeal followed.
The profit sharing trust agreement provides that one alleged to have forfeited his rights to any of the trust funds shall have the right to have the matter of forfeiture presented to a review committee within ten days of the date of discharge. After the review committee acts, a right of appeal to the American Arbitration Association within ten days is given. The relevant provisions of the profit sharing trust agreement read as follows:
"(1) Any member discharged for any one or more of the reasons set forth in the foregoing paragraph shall have the right to have the matter of such forfeiture presented to the Review Committee upon written notice to the Trustees within ten (10) days of discharge. Such discharged member and Company, or either of them, shall have the right to appeal to the American Arbitration Association from any decision rendered by the Review Committee upon written notice to Trustees within ten (10) days after the ...