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Court records show H&H Group Holdings faced several liens before sudden closure

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A little more than a week after H&H Group Holdings' sudden shutdown, state investigators are looking into a complaint against the sudden layoffs and a lengthy court record hints at the reasons behind the closure.

According to an email provided by a former employee, company president Bill Howe of H&H Group Holdings wrote that multiple divisions of the company had, "suspended operations, effective immediately."

The email, dated January 14, went on to say that it would serve as notice of immediate layoffs for all employees, to continue indefinitely.

The layoffs affected employees of H&H Group Holdings, H&H Electric, H&H Solar, H&H Plumbing and H&H Construction Services.

Under Wisconsin's Mass Layoff Law, companies with more than 50 employees are required to give 60 days notice to the state. One employee told 27 News, H&H had roughly 80 employees at the time.

Matthew White, with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development's Equal Rights Division said investigators are already looking into a complaint alleging H&H violated that law.

"As of yesterday we just had the one but we've had a number of calls and visits today," he said.

At this point, he said the DWD is looking for more employees to come forward to build the case.

"It's already been assigned to an investigator who's going to be...assembling a roster of affected employees," White said.

Employees allege they had less than a day's notice of their layoffs and some claim they have not been paid since December.

White said in these cases, if the DWD finds evidence the layoffs were illegal, it would file a lien against the company to get those wages or a portion of those wages to compensate employees.

There are exceptions, according to DWD spokesperson Tyler Tichenor.

If the DWD does file that lien it would not be the first H&H has seen in recent months.

Court records show the state Department of Revenue filed more than half a dozen liens against H&H Group Holdings from September through December for withheld taxes.

Records also show that just days after H&H sent its email notice, the company filed to name Milwaukee attorney Michael Polsky its receiver in a process similar to filing bankruptcy.

The Wisconsin Chapter 128 receivership process allows smaller companies to go through proceedings in state court, rather than federal court. Polsky has a lengthy history of helping businesses through this process, with hundreds of cases under his belt.

A Dane County judge approved Polsky to take over the company as its receiver Wednesday.

H&H Group Holdings' president Bill Howe has not responded to calls or emails from 27 News.

As for the former employees, a number of other construction companies have hired or conducted interviews with those who were laid off.

Other employees have reported they are still looking for work.

Michelle Alfini

Reporter, WKOW

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