For Immediate Release
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MADISON – Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager announced today the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) has reached a settlement with Michael E. Polsky, the state court receiver appointed to take over the failed operations of Ehlert Tool Co., Inc. Ehlert did business at a plant located in New Berlin, Wisconsin. On June 9, 2004, Ehlert filed for receivership. Approximately 60 employees lost their jobs.
The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD), which represents most of the former employees in their efforts to collect unpaid wages, estimates $77,000 is owed in unpaid wages, including vacation, holiday and overtime pay. Under the settlement, that amount will be paid in full. The settlement is subject to court approval. A hearing on the approval motion is set for March 27, 2006, before Patrick C. Haughney, Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge.
Enforcing the rights of Wisconsin workers is a top priority of the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Lautenschlager said. I am grateful the workers will receive the compensation owed to them under the terms of this settlement.
DWD has also investigated possible violations of Wisconsins plant closing law. Wisconsin employers with more than 25 full-time employees are generally required to provide employees with 60 days written notice before a business closing. If they do not, affected employees are entitled to the pay they would have earned had they worked during the 60-day period.
There are, however, certain statutory defenses to having to give the 60-day notice, and the receiver has asserted those defenses. DWDs evaluation of the defenses presented suggests one or more could apply. To save the expense, delay and uncertainty regarding litigation that would otherwise be required to determine the companys plant closing liability, if any, DWD and the receiver have also settled those claims. Employees will be paid 45% of the wages they would have earned during the 60-day notice period.
If the court approves the settlement, DWD will send notices to the former employees it represents. The notices will show the amount each worker will be paid. Each employee who wishes to participate in the settlement must opt-in by signing and returning a claim form to DWD by a deadline that will be established and included in the notice. Employees do not have to agree to the settlement. If they choose not to opt-in, they may pursue their own claims for any wages owed.