Walker’s chicken firm tied to benefits from unpaid labor and unpaid wages, in violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Walker’s was an enterprise with a work force of about 150. It paid full-time employees “piece rates” — on the basis of each worker’s contributions — of about $12.50 per hour and no overtime. Walker’s also paid some of the hourly workers a part-time wage, about $7.10 an hour, with no overtime. But Walker’s and its subsidiaries frequently failed to pay employee wages on time and did not pay health insurance premiums on time.
The Labor Department found the failure to pay employee wages and health insurance premiums on time violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the NLRA, and state wage andhour laws. The agency also found that Walker’s had committed other violations of the FLSA and the NLRA. The company was fined $1.4 million.
The Department of Labor’s lawsuit followed its decision in August that a former Walker’s employee, Tanya McPhee, was entitled to overtime wages pursuant to the FLSA. That ruling was based on an Equal Pay Act complaint brought by McPhee.
Under the Equal Pay Act, employers must pay employees who perform substantially equal work for equal pay, “unless the employer demonstrates that the differential is based on a factor other than sex.” The Department of Labor will seek to enforce this provision in federal court.
In response to this decision, Walker’s changed its policy on employee wages to comply with the FLSA and to pay benefits, including benefits for medical expenses, such as sick leave, paid-family and medical leave, and back pay. The company’s policy took effect in July 2012.
The Department of Labor’s decision in McPhee’s case was also based on a complaint filed with the agency after a federal judge found her to be entitled to back pay for her unpaid overtime wages.
The investigation in McPhee’s case concluded in April 2013, when Walker’s and its subsidiaries paid $3 million to settle the back pay claims. Under the settlement, the company agreed to pay McPhee $2.38 million to settle the Equal Pay Act claim and $1.28