We recently talked about how state employment laws can vary between states, but federal laws are the same for all employers. The U.S. Department of Labor is a federal agency that is charged with enforcing labor regulations that could apply to employers in any state. A large agricultural employer has been charged with wage and hour violations that total $400,000. As agriculture is a prominent commodity in both Missouri and Kansas, the precedent of this federal lawsuit could impact Missouri and Kansas agriculture employers.

The federal lawsuit was prompted by the U. S Department of Labor and alleged the large agricultural employer violated wage and hour laws by underpaying their workers. An investigation shows there were 14 employees who were affected by the employer’s wage and hour violations.

The 14 employees were low-wage employees, who received a fixed salary in exchange for a 90-hour work week. The 90-hour work week and fixed salary amounted to the employees receiving less than the required minimum wage. It is noted that all of the effected employees received a shocking $350 to $425 per week.

The lawsuit claims the employer violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to comply with minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping regulations. The lawsuit seeks back wages that amount to $200,000 and a similar amount in liquidated damages, for a total of $400,000 in damages. In addition to the wage damages, the U.S. Department of Labor is seeking $15,400 in civil penalties because the defendant is a repeat offender. The impact of a federal decision has the potential to impact employers from every state.

Source: abc 40, “Feds Seek More than $400,000 in Back Wages and Damages from Whately Company,” Stephanie Lacy, June 12, 2012