NEW YORK – Employees known as groomers and hot walkers are crucial to employers who race thoroughbred horses. They warm horses up ahead of races and workouts, cool the horses down afterwards and clean the horses, stables and equipment.
A U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigation found that KDE Equine LLC (doing business as Asmussen Racing Stables) and owner Steve Asmussen, based in Arlington, TX, underpaid 170 employees who performed this important and safety-affecting work at its Belmont and Saratoga Springs stables and adjacent racetracks.
Investigators determined that KDE Equine and Asmussen willfully violated the overtime and recordkeeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act when they failed to pay proper overtime compensation to employees who worked more than 40 hours in a workweek, concealed hours worked by employees, directed employees to sign incomplete or false timesheets and failed to calculate the correct overtime pay owed to employees.
As a result of the investigation, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York entered a consent judgment ordering the defendants to pay $281,900 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to 170 workers. The total amount of back wages recovered by the division was $563,800. In a separate consent order with the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges, the defendants were also required to pay $46,200 in civil money penalties to the department due to the willful nature of their violations.
The judgment also requires the defendants to:
Maintain adequate and accurate records of employees’ payroll and work hours.
Adopt an electronic timekeeping system at its New York locations to ensure accurate recording of employees’ work hours.
Train their supervisors in New York on the FLSA’s requirements.
Provide employees with information on the FLSA and their FLSA rights in English and Spanish.
It also permanently enjoins the defendants from future FLSA violations and from retaliating or discriminating against employees who engage in protected activity and requiring or asking employees to kick back wages or work “off the clock”.
“Employers who shortchange their workers not only damage their employees; they also undercut their law-abiding competitors. Such violations are preventable if employers and workers know and understand their respective responsibilities and rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director David An in Westbury, New York.
“The U.S. Department of Labor will pursue all necessary legal avenues to obtain proper compensation for employees and deter future violations by employers. This settlement both compensates these underpaid workers and includes enhanced training and timekeeping requirements to change this employer’s behavior and prevent future violations,” said regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey Rogoff in New York.
The division’s Long Island District Office conducted the investigation. Trial attorneys Jason E. Glick and David J. Rutenberg of the New York Regional Office of the Solicitor litigated the case for the department.
Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions – regardless of their immigration status – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.
Read the release in Español.
Walsh v. KDE Equine LLC d/b/a Asmussen Racing Stables, and Steve Asmussen.
Civil Action No. 19-cv-3389-KAM-SJB