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 user 2010-04-05 at 10:38:01 am Views: 38
  • #23733


    Inkstop employees to get most of their back wages; former
    directors chip in $660,000 to repay employees

    WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS, Ohio – More than 600 former employees of
    InkStop Inc. may finally receive their last paychecks from the troubled
    retailer – nearly six months after the ink-and-toner chain closed its
    doors and locked out all its workers.The money to repay workers will
    come from a $660,000 fund created and paid for by the 15 people on the
    company’s board of directors, including founders Dirk and Dawn
    Kettlewell.The proposed settlement filed late Monday in U.S. District
    Court for the Northern District of Ohio, which still must be approved by
    Judge Solomon Oliver Jr., would end up paying most workers about 82
    percent of what they are owed in wages and overtime under the federal
    Fair Labor Standards Act.

    In exchange for taking the payments,
    the 629 employees would drop the two lawsuits they had filed against the
    company’s board seeking back wages and other damages.The settlement
    outlines how much each worker will get paid, up to a maximum of
    $4,920.50. Store managers can get an additional $169.34 to settle claims
    that they were asked to work unpaid overtime.

    representing the directors and company executives could not be reached
    for comment on Monday. But in a joint statement issued by all sides,
    they said the agreement “provides a fair structure through which the
    employees can be paid . . . and the two lawsuits would be resolved.”"I
    think it’s the best possible result that could’ve happened,” said
    Melanie Warren, an InkStop store manager in Cincinnati and one of the
    first people to join the lawsuit after InkStop abruptly closed its
    stores on Oct. 1.”It doesn’t make everybody whole, but it puts them on
    the road to recovery. I am so proud of the employees who stood together
    as one and showed that the little guys can truly be a voice. That’s
    really what this was all about.”

    Carol Laskoski, assistant store
    lead in Warrington, Pa., said that while she had been hoping for more,
    “I’m happy with it, because at least we’re getting our money.”Jim
    Varagona, a store manager in St. Louis, said: “I’ll believe everything
    when I get the check in my hands.”I’m glad to see it come to an end, but
    I’m a little disappointed that they’ve gotten away with what they have.
    It would’ve been nice to see some more justice.”

    Anthony Lazzaro of The Lazzaro Law Firm LLC, said: “It’s a great
    settlement considering the circumstances,” because the employees will
    get nearly everything they’re entitled to under federal wage laws from a
    company that didn’t have any money.”Option B would have been to
    litigate it for a year or two and hopefully get more,” but considering
    the time and uncertainty associated with that, it was better to have
    settled, he said.

    Attorney Jason Bristol of Cohen Rosenthal &
    Kramer LLP added: “Our goal all along was to make sure that the
    employees were compensated for the work that they performed.”"The goal
    of the settlement for both sides is to reach out to all affected
    employees and have everyone included.”The amounts workers will get was
    determined by U.S. Department of Labor calculations. The fact that
    InkStop declared bankruptcy on Nov. 5 prevented workers from being paid
    for unused vacation and sick days. Both Lazzaro and Bristol took half of
    their usual fee in order to leave more money for the employees.

    said it’s fairly unusual for directors to shell out their own money to
    repay workers after a company goes under.If the court decides to approve
    the settlement, notices would be mailed to former employees inviting
    them to opt in and get repaid. If all goes as planned, employees could
    get their checks in May.