NEW YORK — A federal court ordered trainer Steve Asmussen on Monday to pay a total of $563,800 in back wages and penalties for payroll violations, including failure to pay overtime to stable workers and keep proper records.
The judgment also carries $46,200 in civil penalties for the willful nature of the violations.
It echoes a similar case in 2019 in which trainer Chad Brown was ordered to pay over $1.6 million in back pay and penalties.
According to a release from the U.S. 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, underpaid 170 employees who performed this important and safety-affecting work at its Belmont and Saratoga Springs stables and adjacent racetracks.”
The investigation determined that 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.”
Besides the wage compensation and monetary penalties, the court also ordered Asmussen to maintain accurate records, adopt an electronic timekeeping system at his New York locations, train supervisors in New York on the FLSA’s requirements and provide employees with information on their FLSA rights.
“The U.S. Department of Labor will pursue all necessary legal avenues to obtain proper compensation for employees and deter future violations by employers,” New York regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey Rogoff said in the release. “This settlement both compensates these underpaid workers and includes enhanced training and timekeeping requirements to change this employer’s behavior and prevent future violations.”
The total in back wages owed to the 170 workers was $281,900, and an equal amount of damages was added, bringing the total to $563,800.
“Employers who shortchange their workers not only damage their employees; they also undercut their law-abiding competitors,” Wage and Hour Division District Director David An said. “Such violations are preventable if employers and workers 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 went on to sweep the final three Grade I races of the meet on Labor Day weekend, the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Spinaway and Hopeful.
Besides Asmussen and Brown, fellow trainers Kiaran McLaughlin, Gary Contessa and George Weaver have been audited for their labor practices in recent years, and Linda Rice and Jimmy Jerkens have reached settlements with the Department of Labor.
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