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updated: 1/24/2014 2:50 PM

Veterans Museum sued for failing to pay workers

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  • This is an artist's rendering of what the proposed National Veterans Museum in Hoffman Estates would look like.

      This is an artist's rendering of what the proposed National Veterans Museum in Hoffman Estates would look like.
    Submitted by the National Veterans Museum in May 2

 
 

Two directors of the proposed National Veterans Museum in Hoffman Estates have been sued by four of their former employees, who say they weren't paid.

The not-for-profit museum was incorporated in 2011 with officials aiming to buy a 448-acre site at the northwest corner of Beverly Road and the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway and construct a 325,000-square-foot building without the use of any public funds.

Employees Kim Pesavento, Paul Turnbaugh, Michael Saubert and Dennis Arinello filed suit Monday against Founder/CEO Joseph Cantafio, President/Chief Financial Officer John Wallin and the museum corporation in U.S. District Court.

Their attorney, Matthew Sheahin, said the suit was filed in federal court because its allegations represent violations of federal statutes.

The four plaintiffs were terminated last May for unclear reasons, Sheahin said. Though it was never specifically stated when they were expected to be paid, it was long implied that their compensation was right around the corner, he added.

Neither the defendants nor any representative of the museum could be reached for comment on the lawsuit Thursday or Friday.

According to the suit, Pesavento was the corporation's director of volunteer services and expected to be paid an annual salary of $85,000 retroactive to January 2012 once the not-for-profit began receiving funds.

Between Dec. 11, 2011, and May 24, 2013, Pesavento provided 2,080 hours of work to the museum, according to the suit. On March 11, 2013, she was told that she was being demoted to special events coordinator with a $20,000 annual pay cut. The suit states that Pesavento never received any wages.

Turnbaugh agreed to become the museum's artist in residence and design department director for an annual salary of $150,000 that would be paid retroactive to October 2011 once the corporation began receiving funds, according to the suit.

Turnbaugh's worked more than 3,500 hours and created more than 100 works of military and patriotic-themed art, but was given only one $10,000 check he was told not to cash, according to the suit.

Saubert joined the corporation as deputy director and eventually became senior vice president of operations. He expected to receive an annual salary of $175,000 retroactive to April 2012 once the corporation began receiving funds, according to the suit.

Though Saubert claims to have worked more than 800 hours, the suit states he never received any wages.

Arinello was first invited to join the museum as a board member in 2004 but was asked in September 2010 to step down in order to serve as senior vice president of museum services. In January 2013, he transitioned to chief of staff, according to the suit.

Arinello expected to receive an annual salary of $175,000 retroactive to the start of his employment once the corporation began receiving funds. Though having worked as an employee of the corporation for more than 2,080 hours, Arinello received no payment, according to the suit.

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