The U.S. Labor Department sued Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay approximately $3 million in overtime wages to more than 500 former and current employees.
The department filed its complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, claiming that employee records at the company’s Dallas facility failed to show the number of hours the poultry-processing employees worked each day and the total number of hours they worked each week.
Prior to the suit, investigators from Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that the Pittsburg, TX-based company had failed to pay workers for all hours worked and the time they spent putting on and taking off protective clothing.
Ray Atkinson, Pilgrim’s Pride’s director of corporate communications, stated that the company fully cooperated with the Labor Department during its audit and that it seeks to comply with all federal laws concerning employment.
Final note: These “donning and doffing” cases have been a recent focus for both the Labor Department and attorneys representing workers in class-action lawsuits. Even though a few minutes at the beginning and end of a shift may not mean much to individual employees, when those minutes are applied to hundreds of workers, the unpaid wages and possible overtime add up to big bucks.