NEW YORK — A federal court on Monday ordered trainer Steve Asmussen to pay penalties totaling $563,800 for back wage and payroll violations that include paying stationary workers overtime and failure to keep proper records.
The decision also includes $46,200 in civil penalties for the willful nature of the violation.
This echoes a similar case in 2019 in which trainer Chad Brown was ordered to pay more than $1.6 million in back pay and penalties.
According to a release from the US Department of Labor, an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division found that KDE Equine LLC (doing business as Asmussen Racing Stables) and owner Steve Asmussen, based in Arlington, TX , paid low wages to 170 employees who performed this critical and safety-impacting work at its Belmont and Saratoga Springs stables and nearby racetracks. “
The investigation determined that Esmussen “willfully violated the overtime and recordkeeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act when he failed to pay reasonable overtime compensation to employees who worked more than 40 hours in a workweek, worked by employees.” Concealed hours worked, instructed employees to sign incomplete or false timesheets and failed to calculate correct overtime pay for employees.”
In addition to wage compensation and monetary penalties, the court ordered Asmussen to maintain accurate records, adopt an electronic timekeeping system at its New York locations, train supervisors in New York on FLSA requirements, and provide employees with information about their FLSA rights. also ordered.
“The U.S. Department of Labor will take all necessary legal avenues to obtain fair compensation for employees and prevent future violations by employers,” New York Regional Labor Solicitor Jeffrey Rogoff said in the release. “This agreement compensates these low-wage workers and incorporates advanced training and timing requirements to change this employer’s behavior and prevent future violations.”
The total outstanding wages of 170 workers was $281,900, and similar damages were added, bringing the total to $563,800.
“Employers who shorten their workforce not only put their employees at a disadvantage; they also undercut their law-abiding competitors,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director David Ann. “Such violations are preventable if employers and employees know and understand their respective responsibilities and rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act.”
The news comes on the heels of an eventful Saratoga meet for Asmussen, who was inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame in 2016.
He broke the North American career record for all-time victories and competed in the final three Grade I races of the meet on Labor Day weekend, the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Spinaway and Hopeful.
In addition to Asmussen and Brown, fellow trainers Kieran McLaughlin, Gary Contessa and George Weaver have been audited for their labor practices in recent years, and Linda Rice and Jimmy Jerkens have reached agreements with the Labor Department.
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