by Lainie Mazzullo
Wichita Business Journal

In an administrative proceeding by the Kansas Department of Human Resources (KDHR) June 6, 166 former employees of manufacturing company A.O. Smith in Parsons, Kan., won more than $800,000 after claiming that the employer tried to bilk them out of a year’s worth of vacation time.

Ross Hollander, a partner at Wichita firm Joseph & Hollander PA and a former Wichita Bar Association president, represented the employees in the case.

The employees argued that A.O. Smith, which is headquartered in Wisconsin and has locations all over the United States, Europe and Asia, tried to change its vacation policy, but didn’t enforce it correctly and didn’t properly communicate with employees. When the company was sold to a businesses called Columbian TecTank, employees were refused the vacation they had earned the year prior. The presiding officer in the case ruled in favor of the employees.

The Parsons location is one of three engineering storage products divisions of A.O. Smith, the others being in Illinois and Tennessee. All three locations were sold to Columbian, and employees in the Illinois offices have discussed also filing complaints regarding possible lost vacation time, says Ed O’Connor, vice president of human resources for A. O. Smith.

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