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News Release

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Employment Standards Administration

ESA Press Release: U.S. Department of Labor Sues Excel Corporation Seeking Compliance with Federal Overtime Law [07/16/1998]

For more information call: (202) 219-8211 x115

The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a complaint against Excel Corporation, headquartered in Wichita, Kan., a subsidiary of Cargill, Inc., seeking compliance with the overtime and recordkeeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The complaint alleges violations of the overtime and recordkeeping requirements at the company's Beardstown, Ill., pork slaughtering and processing plant involving approximately 600 employees.

"The department will not hesitate to seek court action to ensure that workers receive the full wages they are entitled to," said Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman. "We are especially concerned that the corporation take steps to guarantee for the future that the workers in all Excel plants are compensated for all of their work time."

The department's Wage and Hour Division determined that "knife-carrying" employees at the Beardstown plant were not paid for work time involving putting on, taking off and cleaning their unique protective equipment. Also, they were not paid for time obtaining and cleaning their knives and other work-related activities.

On July 16, the department filed suit in U.S. District Court in Springfield, Ill. The suit specifically asks the court to enjoin Excel Corporation from future violations of the FLSA. Excel has numerous plants in other states including Texas and Colorado. The suit seeks overtime compensation due the employees at the Beardstown plant. The department sought court action after the corporation declined to change its pay practices to comply with the law.

This is the fourth time that the department has sought court action against major U.S. meatpacking companies for similar violations. In May 1998, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver upheld a lower District Court ruling against Monfort, Inc. in Greeley, Colo., which ordered the firm to pay more than $1.5 million plus interest in unpaid overtime compensation to more than 5,000 employees. In October 1997, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver affirmed the lower district court's order that IBP, Inc. pay $4.5 million in back wages and more than $2.6 million in interest to some 23,500 employees in 11 plants. The department filed suit against IBP again in April 1998.

"The department is seeking to afford workers in all sectors of this industry the protections to which they are entitled under the law," said Secretary Herman. "Meatpacking is an industry where the work is arduous and the conditions are difficult. The workers deserve their full compensation."

The FLSA requires covered employers to pay overtime compensation of one and one-half times the employees' regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 in any workweek and to keep adequate time and payroll records.

The investigation leading to the Excel Corporation court case was conducted by the Wage and Hour Division's office located at 509 W. Capitol, Springfield, Ill.

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Agency
Employment Standards Administration
Date
July 16, 1998
Contact: David Roberts
Phone Number