The former manager of a Milwaukee assisted-living facility recouped unpaid wages and attorney fees in a recent Eastern District of Wisconsin case.
Plaintiff Catherine Okoro filed a lawsuit in March 2011 seeking to recover unpaid wages against her employer, Pyramid 4 Aegis and Jerome Battles.
Okoro said she began working for the defendants as an assistant administrator on June 1, 2009. The defendants employed her to administer and manage Pyramid 4 Aegis, a residential group home at 4574 N. 22nd St., Milwaukee.
Battles was the owner of Pyramid 4 Aegis and reportedly had substantial control over its operations, including its wage payment practices and the supervision of Okoro’s work.
When the facility’s administrator quit shortly after Okoro was hired, Okoro was promoted to that position.
At the time she was hired, the defendants allegedly agreed to pay Okoro $2,000 per month as an exempt employee. However, Battles allegedly asked Okoro if he could delay payment of her wages while the business was being established. He apparently promised to begin actual payment once there were clients in the facility. After Okoro successfully recruited clients, she said she approached Battles about getting paid. However, in breach of their agreement and in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, Battles allegedly still refused to pay her wages.
Okoro claimed that, during the entire course of her employment, the defendants never paid her. Her duties reportedly included recruiting clients for the group home, hiring employees, setting up and maintaining the payroll system, working as a liaison between the clients and physicians and the group home, supervising the day-to-day activities and processing billing.
Throughout her employment, Okoro said, she maintained contemporaneous handwritten records of her hours worked for the defendants. She claimed she worked a total of approximately 1,630 hours during her employment at Pyramid 4 Aegis.
Okoro said she was “fed up with not being paid” and she quit her job May 20, 2010.
Jurors in the Eastern District Court of Wisconsin determined the plaintiff had worked for the defendants for 206 hours until July 23, 2009, and worked 1,378 hours on and after July 24, 2009. Based on the jury’s determination, Judge William Callahan Jr. then awarded the plaintiff $22,679.60 for unpaid wages and liquidated damages, and awarded the plaintiff attorney fees and costs to attorney Rebecca Salawdeh in the amount of $40,742.37 and to attorney Marni Willenson in the amount of $27,434.62.