WEST COVINA, CA – A federal court has entered default judgments that require the operators of La Puente poultry processing plant to pay more than $1 million after the U.S. Department of Labor found the employers deliberately denied overtime wages earned by 113 workers and tried to hide the wage theft.In addition to withholding overtime, the employers told some workers to forge timesheets and threatened them if they cooperated with federal investigators. They also created shell companies, hoping to hide overtime violations over a five-year period from 2015 to 2020. The Aug. 30, 2023, action by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ends the department’s long-running litigation against TL Foods Inc. and its owner Lily ‘Mei’ Tseng, Express Poultry Services Inc. and its owner Jimmy Huynh, and joint employers Aiwa Tang-Ton, Kevin Truong and KP Poultry Inc. for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The judgments require Tseng and TL Foods Inc. to pay more than $1 million in back wages and damages and Huynh and Express Poultry Services Inc. to pay $210,438 in back wages and damages to the affected workers. The court also forbids the employers from future FLSA violations. Co-defendants and joint employers Tang-Ton, Truong and KP Poultry Inc. entered into consent judgments with the department previously and agreed to pay $531,518 in back wages, liquidated damages and interest to affected workers, and $20,000 in civil money penalties.“For years, the employers in this case attempted to hide their wage violations. The Solicitor’s Office is grateful for the courage and integrity of the workers who came forward despite the retaliation and intimidation they faced,” said Regional Solicitor Marc Pilotin in San Francisco. “We will continue to use every legal tool available and necessary to protect the rights of vulnerable workers under federal law.”In total, the department obtained four judgments to recover more than $1.2 million in back wages, damages and interest to the affected workers. “Poultry processing workers often spend long hours doing physically demanding work that helps to feed our communities and yet they are among the most vulnerable to exploitation and retaliation,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Daniel Pasquil in West Covina, California. “The Wage and Hour Division has always focused on helping vulnerable workers, and this case sends a signal to industry employers that we will not tolerate their failure to respect the dignity of workers and meet their legal responsibilities.”The division’s West Covina District Office conducted the investigation and the department’s Office of the Solicitor in San Francisco filed the complaint and secured the consent judgments.The department is seeking any current or former employees of TL Foods, Express Poultry Services or KP Poultry who believe they may be owed back wages by these employers. Contact the West Covina District Office at (626) 966-0478 or visit the division’s Workers Owed Wages website to search a database of workers for whom the division has money waiting to be claimed.Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division. Workers can call the division confidentially with questions or concerns – regardless of where they are from – and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages. Help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android and iOS Timesheet App for free in English or Spanish.This news release is also available in Spanish.
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