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U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Results in New York Horse Racing Trainer Paying $1,617,673 in Back Wages, Damages, Penalties
NEW YORK, NY – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Chad C. Brown Inc. and owner Chad Brown will pay a total of $1,617,673 in back wages, liquidated damages, and civil penalties for willful violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the labor provisions of the H-2B non-immigrant visa program.
WHD investigators found that the thoroughbred horse racing trainer and the company violated the FLSA by failing to pay grooms and hot walkers at Elmont and Saratoga, New York, among other locations, overtime wages for all hours when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek and failing to keep required time and payroll records.
The H-2B program violations resulted from Chad C. Brown Inc.:
- Failing to pay the H-2B employees the wages they were offered;
- Collecting payment from employees for visa costs, which should be paid by the employer;
- Failing to reimburse employees' transportation and subsistence costs for travel from their home countries;
- Misrepresenting to employees the place of employment and job terms and conditions, such as the availability of free housing;
- Failing to disclose required information in a language understood by the employees; and
- Failing to post a notice of employees' H-2B rights.
A complaint and consent judgment filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York orders the defendants to pay $575,233 - $287,616 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages - to 150 employees and pay $46,776 in civil penalties to WHD for the FLSA violations. The judgment also requires them to designate a compliance officer for pay practices, implement and use an electronic timekeeping system to ensure accurate tracking of employees' work hours, and train certain supervisory employees on the requirements of the FLSA and the H-2B provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
An H-2B stipulation and compliance agreement separately requires Chad C. Brown Inc. to pay $918,682 in H-2B back wages to 86 employees and $76,981 in civil penalties to WHD. The company also agrees to institute and maintain a comprehensive H-2B compliance program. In addition to the consent judgment's requirements, it will designate a compliance officer to ensure compliance with the H-2B program throughout the season, and conduct orientation sessions to inform employees of the timekeeping system and their H-2B rights.
"The U.S. Department of Labor ensures labor laws are followed to protect workers and offers employers extensive assistance to ensure that they understand their responsibilities," said Wage and Hour Division Long Island District Director David An. "Employers must understand and abide by the H-2B program's provisions to prevent foreign workers from being paid less than the wages they were promised. Our enforcement ensures required payments, protects American jobs, and levels the playing field for law-abiding employers."
"These legal actions demonstrate the U.S. Department of Labor's commitment to take all steps necessary to ensure employees receive the wages that they have rightfully earned and that employers who violate laws do not gain an unfair advantage over law-abiding competitors," said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff.
The Division's Long Island District Office conducted the investigations. Trial attorneys Jason Glick and Molly Theobald from the Department's Office of the Solicitor in New York litigated the case.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by WHD, including the H-2B provisions of the INA, contact the Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at http://www.dol.gov/whd including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the Division.
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Acosta v. Chad C. Brown Inc., d/b/a Chad Brown Racing, d/b/a Chad Brown Racing Stables Inc., and Chad C. Brown, an individual
Civil Action Number: 19-cv-1941
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