Reuters is reporting that “Tyson Foods Inc., one of the nation’s largest poultry producers, has been found in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) at its Blountsville, Ala., facility. The jury’s verdict in federal court in Birmingham resulted from a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor against the company…
The Department of Labor’s lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. The federal department alleged that Tyson Foods did not keep accurate records and failed to pay production line employees for the time they spend donning and doffing safety and sanitary gear, and performing other related work activities. The violations cover the period from the year 2000 to the present and affect approximately 3,000 current and former workers at the plant.
The initial investigation began in April 2000 as part of the department’s Wage and Hour Division’s poultry enforcement initiative. The Labor Department filed the district court complaint in May 2002 following the company’s failure to comply with the law and to pay back wages. The first jury trial, which began in February 2009, ended in a mistrial. The Labor Department chose to pursue a second trial in August 2009 to secure a ruling that Tyson was failing to compensate its employees lawfully.”
To read the full story go to Reuters’ website.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal is reporting that, “[t]hree Wynn Las Vegas dealers are taking their claims of unfair tip pooling to federal court with a new lawsuit that claims the resort’s tip sharing policy violates federal labor laws.
Attorneys for three of the plaintiffs named in a state lawsuit against Wynn Las Vegas filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Nevada late Thursday. The federal lawsuit claims the Wynn tip-pooling policy violates the Fair Labor Standards Act.”
Apparently “[t]he decision to file in federal court was made in response to a U.S. Department of Labor brief that was filed siding with a worker in Oregon in a tip-pooling case — Misty Cumbie v. Woody Woo [a case now pending at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals]…
The Labor Department’s brief says the worker in Oregon was correct in challenging her company’s tip-pooling policy, which the department said violates the Fair Labor Standards Act.”
The story discussed Wynn’s potential defense to the case as well. “Wynn dealers attorney Robin Potter said the Oregon case marks the first time the Department of Labor has come out against tip pooling in cases in which the employer was not taking part in a “tip credit” system. Tip credits allow employers to pay less than the minimum wage to workers who can expect to earn most of their salary from tips.
Wynn Las Vegas doesn’t use tip credits and pays its workers minimum wage.
But the Labor Department said in the Woody Woo case that the tipped employees were paid minimum wage but were still required to contribute their tips to ‘an invalid tip pool,” and a portion of that pool was shared with nontipped employees.’
To read the full story go to the Las Vegas Review-Journal website.
The New York Times is reporting that, “[a] New York carwash chain agreed to pay $3.4 million in back wages and liquidated damages to 1,187 current and former employees to resolve part of a lawsuit brought by the United States Department of Labor in August 2005.
The suit was filed against the chain, the Lage Management Corporation, based in Pelham Manor, N.Y., after an investigation found that its carwashes were not paying employees minimum wage, not paying them for overtime and not keeping adequate employment records. In three previous settlements in the case, more than 200 employees had already received more than $1.3 million in back wages and damages.”
To read the full article go to the New York Times website.
Steven Greenhouse reports in today’s New York Times that the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor is severely lacking when it comes to its enforcement responsibilities:
“The federal agency charged with enforcing minimum wage, overtime and many other labor laws is failing in that role, leaving millions of workers vulnerable, Congressional auditors have found.
In a report scheduled to be released Wednesday, the Government Accountability Office found that the agency, the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division, had mishandled 9 of the 10 cases brought by a team of undercover agents posing as aggrieved workers.
In one case, the division failed to investigate a complaint that under-age children in Modesto, Calif., were working during school hours at a meatpacking plant with dangerous machinery, the G.A.O., the nonpartisan auditing arm of Congress, found.
When an undercover agent posing as a dishwasher called four times to complain about not being paid overtime for 19 weeks, the division’s office in Miami failed to return his calls for four months, and when it did, the report said, an official told him it would take 8 to 10 months to begin investigating his case.”
To read the entire article go to http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/25/washington/25wage.html?hp#