Wisconsin’s Attorney General Josh Kaul announced last week that the state had reached a settlement with Merrill-based Semling-Menke Company, Inc (SEMCO), requiring the company to pay more than $650,000 to eligible employees after shutting down operations on December 31, 2019.

Former employees filed a complaint against the company in March 2020. Their cause was taken up by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the DWD, in February 2021, alleging that the company failed to provide the required 60-days’ notice to employees before ceasing its business operations.

“With this resolution, substantial payments are being made to workers who lost their jobs when the business closed,” said Attorney General Kaul. “Thank you to those at DOJ and DWD whose work led to this excellent result for more than 130 Wisconsinites.”

SEMCO employees were notified by letter the day before operations ceased. A copy of that letter was not stamped received in the WARN notice until after January 2, four days after the company’s closure.

“When an employer fails to give employees proper notice of a business closing, the negative impact of the lost jobs is compounded by the effects on families and communities,” said DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek. “DWD welcomes this settlement on behalf of the SEMCO employees and will continue its work through the Job Center of Wisconsin and community partnerships to connect the affected workers with new opportunities.”

Eligible employees will receive checks of varying amounts, depending on wage calculations conducted by DWD. SEMCO mailed checks directly to eligible employees earlier this month.

During the 90 days following when the checks were mailed, SEMCO is required to attempt to re-deliver any returned check. At the end of the 90 days, Semco will give an accounting of completed payments to DWD.

Act 369 does not apply to this agreement, according to Attorney General Kaul’s office, because the amounts that DWD believes were owed to affected employees are being paid in full and the case is therefore not being “compromised or discontinued” within the meaning of the statute.

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