Former legal assistant sues Putnam attorney for unpaid wages

By Lawrence Smith | Oct 30, 2009

WINFIELD - A Putnam County attorney is accused of failing to deliver on promises he made to a former legal assistant of a more lucrative working environment.

John Grafton is named in a wage payment and collection suit filed by Amy Pleasants of Buffalo. In her suit filed in Putnam Circuit Court on Sept. 28, Pleasants, 30, alleges that Grafton, 39, a sole practitioner in Winfield, failed to adequately, and timely pay her during the six months she worked for him earlier this year.

According to court records, Pleasants first worked for Grafton as a legal assistant from 1999 until 2003 before leaving to work at other law firms in Charleston. In January, he called Pleasants at the firm she was currently working to consider returning to work for him.

Though he could not promise her the same salary she was earning at her current firm, which is not named in court records, Grafton enticed her with "better work hours," and the fact "his office was much closer to her home." Shortly thereafter, Pleasants tendered her resignation, and began working for him on Feb. 6.

Pleasants' compensation package, records show, included a salary to be paid every two weeks, and vacation pay. The amount of her salary is not stated.

After depositing her May 1 paycheck, it was returned for insufficient funds. Though Grafton did make good on the check, Pleasants alleges he did not reimburse her for several overdraft fees including $10 for depositing a bad check.

In her suit, Pleasants maintains starting six weeks later, she never saw another dime from Grafton.

When it came time for her June 12 check, Pleasants alleges Grafton never paid her. Despite assurances he would " 'take care of it'" Grafton never did.

Those failed promises continued through July 7 when Pleasants began a previously scheduled vacation. Despite assuring her he would deposit at least two paychecks into her account while she was gone, Grafton never did causing further overdrafts on her account.

Eventually, Pleasants tendered her resignation with Grafton on Aug. 19. Though she asked for all her overdue wages at the time of her resignation, Pleasants says he failed to deliver.

All told, Pleasants alleges Grafton owes her for 9 ½ weeks of back wages, and two weeks of vacation pay. Though the total amount in arrearage is not stated in court records, most civil cases in circuit court are usually over $5,000.

In her suit, Pleasants says as a result of Grafton failing to pay her, she has suffered aggravation, annoyance and inconvenience.

Pursuant to the state Wage Payment and Collection Act, Pleasants asks she be awarded three times the amount of her back pay plus court costs, attorney fees and interest.

She is represented by Charleston attorney David L. Grubb. The case is assigned to Judge O.C. "Hobby" Spaulding.

Putnam Circuit Court case number 09-C-443

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