DWD: DWD Sends Checks in Settlement in AR Accessories Business Closing Claim

Rose Lynch (608) 266-6753

Settlement in the amount of $2 million dollars will benefit approximately 300 former employees

Madison – Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has mailed 299 checks totaling $1.9 million to former employees of AR Accessories as part of an agreement reached in January with JP Morgan Chase Bank, N. A.; Bank One; U.S. Bank National Association; and, Harris Trust and Savings Bank (Chicago) to settle claims filed by former employees of AR Accessories.

AR Accessories Group, Inc. operated as Amity Leather and Wallet Works stores in Wisconsin. The factory was located in West Bend, with the main office in Milwaukee. In March of 1998, DWD began an investigation of allegations that factory workers were laid off without proper notice in violation of Wisconsin Business Closing and Mass layoff laws. In May 1998, 100 additional employees were affected when the Wallet Works stores closed. In June 1998, the department filed a lien to protect wages owed to these employees.

Since March 1998 the case was litigated through the Bankruptcy Court and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals until a settlement was announced in January 2005.

The settlement called for a payment in the amount of $2 million dollars to DWD. The department agreed to deposit the funds into an account pending resolution by DWD as to the distribution and agreed to resolve any appeals within six months. Once approved and agreed to by all parties, the distribution of these funds was given the green light to begin.

Secretary Gassman said. “I am pleased that the department was able to reach an amicable agreement with the financial institutions so these hard-working former employees can receive the compensation that they are due. Our workers are our greatest resource, and protection of their rights is one of DWD’s highest priorities.”

On the Web: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dwd/newsreleases/2005/060705_ar_accessories_checks.htm