By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Chad C. Brown Inc. and its owner Chad Brown will pay a total of $1,617,673 in back wages, liquidated damages, and civil penalties for willful violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the labor provisions of the H-2B non-immigrant visa program.

WHD found the thoroughbred horse racing trainer and the company violated the H-2B program as follows:

Failing to pay the H-2B employees the wages they were offered;

Collecting payment from employees for visa costs, which should be paid by the employer;

Failing to reimburse employees' transportation and subsistence costs for travel from their home countries;

Misrepresenting to employees the availability of free housing;

Failing to disclose required information in a language understood by the employees; and

Failing to post a notice of employees' H-2B rights.

WHD also found the thoroughbred horse racing trainer and the company violated the FLSA by failing to pay grooms and hot walkers at Elmont and Saratoga, N.Y. overtime wages for all hours worked more than 40 hours in a work week and failing to keep required time and payroll records.

An H-2B stipulation and compliance agreement filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York requires Chad C. Brown Inc. to pay $918,682 in H-2B back wages to 86 employees and $76,981 in civil penalties to WHD. The company also agreed to institute and maintain a comprehensive H-2B compliance program, including designating a compliance officer to ensure compliance with the H-2B program throughout the season, and conduct orientation sessions to inform employees of the timekeeping system and their H-2B rights.

A complaint and consent judgment also ordered the defendants to pay $575,233; $287,616 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages – to 150 employees and pay $46,776 in civil penalties to WHD for the FLSA violations. The judgment also requires them to implement and use an electronic timekeeping system to ensure accurate tracking of employees' work hours, and train certain supervisory employees on the requirements of the FLSA and the H-2B provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).