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Poultry Plant to Pay Over $1.7M in Wage and Hour Back Pay to Mentally Disabled Workers

August 12, 2011

According to a recent federal wage and hour lawsuit settlement that our Placentia, California labor and employment attorneys have been following, thirty-one mentally disabled poultry processor workers in the State of Iowa have been awarded over $1.7 million in back wages and damages by a federal judge, after Henry's Turkey Service was found to have violated a number of state and federal wage and hour laws.

Last month, a U.S. District Court Judge reportedly awarded the disabled workers a total of $1,761,554 in back wages and damages--$880,777 in unpaid wages and damages in the same monetary amount. The judgment was reportedly decided without a trial, after the U.S. Department of Labor argued this year that because the poultry company had admitted to many of the practices that led to the wage and hour lawsuit, there were no substantive issues to decide at a trial.

According to the Quad-City Times, Henry's Turkey Service admitted to paying the disabled workers no more than $65 a month, regardless of how many hours they worked per month. The amount of $65 was decided upon because anything over $65 would have caused the workers to lose some disability income that the poultry company was claiming in return for room and board.

As our Carson employment attorneys blog has discussed in a related post, under federal wage and hour laws, all workers by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are required to receive at the least $7.25 per hour, the U.S. federal minimum wage, plus an overtime compensation of one and one-half the employee's regular pay rate for any hours worked above and beyond a forty hour work week. This includes commissions, bonuses and any incentive compensation.

The collection of back pay is limited to a three-year period under federal law, so although the judge awarded over $1.7 million, this reportedly represents only a portion of the unpaid wages that many of the workers should be owed, especially the workers who have been with the company for over 30 years.

Henry's Turkey Service is a Texas labor broker that has placed mentally disabled men for 40 years in the processing plant, where they worked 40-hour weeks gutting turkeys and only received $65 a month. Even their Social Security payments were collected by the turkey company, and used to help cover the room and board cost for the men.

The operation was shut down in February of 2009, after the company was found to have allegedly violated over 9,000 state wage and hour laws, state licensing laws and to have engaged in the gross physical and emotional mistreatment of workers.

At Howard Law, PC, our attorneys fight to protect your rights to a workplace free from violations of employment and labor laws. Contact us today for a free consultation, so we can help you with your wage and hour recovery.

Turkey plant workers awarded $1.7M in wage case, The Quad-City Times, July 20, 2011
Related Web Resources:

U.S. Department of Labor: Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Department of Labor (DOL): Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

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