U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Results in Court Ordering New York Horse Trainer to Pay $425,000 in Back Wages, Damages and Penalties
NEW YORK, NY – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Weaver Racing Inc. and owner George R. Weaver paid a total of $425,000 in court-ordered back wages, liquidated damages and civil penalties for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the labor provisions of the H-2B visa program.
WHD investigators found that the thoroughbred horse racing trainer and the company violated the FLSA by failing to pay overtime to groomers and hot walkers – in Elmont and Saratoga, New York – when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. WHD also cited Weaver for recordkeeping violations for the failure to record the number of hours employees worked accurately.
The H-2B program violations resulted from the following:
- Employer failing to pay H-2B employees the required hourly wage;
- Requiring H-2B employees to bear the cost of their travel to the U.S. and the costs of their visas;
- Collecting cash from workers to cover the company’s own attorney and visa filing fees;
- Failing to cover the full cost of employees’ travel to and from the employer’s worksite;
- Regularly sending H-2B employees to work in geographic areas where the company had not completed the required recruitment of U.S. workers;
- Failing to disclose the availability of free housing, bonuses and overtime hours in its job offer and recruitment to prospective U.S. workers;
- Instructing employees to underreport their hours if WHD interviewed them; and
- Attempting to intimidate employees from participating in WHD’s investigation.
“The Wage and Hour Division is committed to safeguarding American jobs, leveling the playing field for law-abiding employers and protecting vulnerable workers from being paid less than they are legally owed,” said Wage and Hour Division Long Island District Director David An in Westbury, New York. “We encourage employers to reach out to us with questions, and to use the wide variety of tools we offer to help them understand their responsibilities.”
“These legal actions demonstrate the U.S. Department of Labor will take all steps necessary to ensure employees receive the wages that they have rightfully earned and that employers that violate laws do not gain an unfair advantage over employers who obey the law,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff in New York.
A consent judgment filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York orders the defendants to pay $165,480 – $75,166 in overtime back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages – to 59 employees and pay $15,147 in civil penalties for the FLSA violations. The judgment also requires them to designate a compliance officer to oversee 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 requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act. It also orders them not to commit future violations and prohibits them from interfering with WHD investigations and retaliating against employees.
An H-2B consent findings and order filed separately with the Office of Administrative Law Judges requires Weaver Racing Inc. to pay $175,099 in H-2B back wages to 56 employees and $84,420 in civil penalties. The employer also agrees to institute and maintain a comprehensive H-2B compliance program, designate a compliance officer to ensure compliance with H-2B program requirements and conduct orientation sessions to instruct employees how to use the timekeeping system, and to inform them of their rights under the H-2B program.
WHD’s Long Island District Office conducted the investigation. Trial Attorney Jason E. Glick of the regional Office of the Solicitor in New York litigated the case for the department.
Employers that discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the Division, contact its toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/whd including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the Division.
The mission of WHD is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation’s workforce. WHD enforces federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD also enforces the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis-Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.
Scalia v. Weaver Racing Inc. doing business as Weaver Racing Stable Inc.; Weaver Racing Stables Inc., doing business as George Weaver Racing Stable and George Weaver Racing Stable LLC; and George R. Weaver, an individual.
Civil Action No. 20-cv-3836-SJF-ARL
Administrator, Wage and Hour Division, United States Department of Labor v. Weaver Racing Inc. doing business as Weaver Racing Stables Inc.
OALJ Case No. 2020-TNE-00046