By KEVIN WANG
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin appeals court has ruled in favor of a former manager of an Italian restaurant who said the company did not pay her the required minimum wage.
The 2nd District Court of Appeals on Thursday ruled Shawn Johnson of Waterford deserves more than the $10,000 in wages and attorneys’ fees a lower court awarded her in a 2007 lawsuit. The appellate court sent the case back to the Racine County Circuit Court to reconsider what she is owed.
The dispute began after Johnson filed a complaint with the state Department of Workforce Development in 2006. She claimed Roma II – Waterford LLC and Roma’s E.T., Inc., underpaid her in violation of both federal and state laws when she worked at Waterford-based Roma II Pizza & Pasta.
Johnson’s attorney, Sally Piefer, said Roma’s owner agreed to pay her $500 per week but failed to do so.
Court documents say Johnson had a relationship with the owner when she was working as the restaurant manager.
The Department of Workforce Development sided with Johnson and asked that Roma pay her more than $8,000. The restaurant refused and Johnson sued. After two trials in 2010, a jury found Roma was liable for more than $12,000 in unpaid wages and related damages.
Johnson filed a post-verdict petition to the lower court seeking additional damages nearly 10 times that amount, citing high costs brought on by the long litigation process. The court denied Johnson’s request and awarded her only $10,000, saying it’s unclear how the lower court came up with that amount.
Piefer said she is not sure what will immediately follow the appeals court ruling, noting one of the initial trial court judges in the case committed suicide two years ago.
A phone message left for Roma’s attorney in Milwaukee was not immediately returned.