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Employment – minimum wage — liquidated damages — attorney fees

Wisconsin Court of Appeals

Civil

Employment – minimum wage — liquidated damages — attorney fees

Where the circuit court did not give reasons for denying liquidated damages for a minimum wage law violation, or for reducing attorney fees, reversal is required.

“[E]ven if we considered the circuit court’s reasoning as to attorney’s fees, that reasoning is insufficient to demonstrate that the court made the conclusions required to deny the liquidated damages and penalty. That is, the court’s reasoning as to attorney’s fees does not demonstrate that the court concluded that Roma acted in good faith and with a reasonable belief that Roma was complying with the law, nor does it demonstrate whether the court concluded that Roma was not dilatory or otherwise unjust in its actions. Indeed, the court’s findings, at least without additional explanation, may easily be read to imply the opposite.”

“As with the attorney’s fee issue, Roma makes several assertions which, in its view, provide alternative reasonable bases for upholding the circuit court’s rulings on the liquidated damages and the penalty, and Johnson replies with competing assertions. As with the attorney’s fees issue, it is again apparent to us from the parties’ competing assertions that we are unable to uphold the circuit court’s discretionary decision on some alternative basis. Addressing the parties’ assertions would require us to exercise the circuit court’s discretion for it. Therefore, we cannot agree with Johnson that it would be appropriate for us to direct on remand that the circuit court must impose liquidated damages, the penalty, or both. Rather, we remand for the circuit court to reexamine the liquidated damages and penalty issues in a manner consistent with our decision.”

Reversed and Remanded.

Recommended for publication in the official reports.

2012AP1028 Johnson v. Roma II – Waterford, LLC

Dist. II, Racine county, Nieskes, Barry, JJ., Blanchard, J.

Attorneys: For Appellant: Piefer, Sally A., Waukesha; For Respondent: Keppel, Kathryn A., Milwaukee; Strohbehn, Erin Marie, Milwaukee

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