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Van Hollen and Gassman Announce Workers to Receive Settlement Payments in Sustainable Groundwater Services


WATERTOWN - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and Department of Workforce Development Secretary Roberta Gassman today announced the recovery of almost $73,000 in compensation that Sustainable Groundwater Services employees lost when the Watertown firm closed earlier this year.

"It is clear in Wisconsin that laws protecting the rights of workers to compensation must be followed," Van Hollen said.  "The Wisconsin Department of Justice represents the Department of Workforce Development in enforcing the law when violations unfortunately occur."


Thirty-three former employees will share in $72,898.65 in back wages owed to them as a result of legal action taken by the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Workforce Development (DWD). 


"In each of the last two years, DWD succeeded in collecting well over $2 million on behalf of thousands of workers and their families," Secretary Gassman said. "This is another example of our strong, effective enforcement of state laws protecting workers, a collaborative effort with the Department of Justice."


Sustainable Groundwater Services was placed into receivership under Chapter 128 (a state bankruptcy provision) on February 13, 2009.  At the request of the Department of Workforce Development, the Wisconsin Department of Justice filed a wage lien and a claim in the receivership.  The claims were made for unpaid vacation benefits, medical bills and other deductions. 


Under the state's Wage Payments, Claims and Collections laws, eligible workers are entitled to payment of up to $3,000 in unpaid wages before most other creditors may be paid.  In this case, the 33 former workers will either receive the full amount claimed, or $3,000, whichever is the lesser amount.

The payments, agreed to between the state and John M. Wirth, the court appointed receiver, were approved today by Dodge County Circuit Court Judge Steven G. Bauer.