Horse trainer ordered to pay $500K+ in wages, damages

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FILE: Horses hooves at Ascot racecourse on November 22, 2014, in Ascot, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)

NEW YORK (NEWS10) — According to the Department of Labor, a court has ordered acclaimed horse trainer Steve Asmussen to pay $563,000 in back wages, damages to 170 employees. DOL says Asmussen must also pay $46,000 in penalties for willful wage and recordkeeping violations at Belmont and Saratoga Springs racetracks.

“This settlement both compensates these underpaid workers and includes enhanced training and timekeeping requirements to change this employer’s behavior and prevent future violations,” said Jeffrey Rogoff, the Regional Solicitor of Labor.

The 170 employees in question are known as groomers and hot walkers. They are reportedly crucial to the well-being and success of thoroughbred horses. They prep horses ahead of races and workouts, cool them down afterward, clean them, and much out the stables.

DOL’s Wage and Hour Division reportedly investigated Asmussen’s Texas-based KDE Equine, also known as Asmussen Racin Stables. Investigators uncovered that these were the employees routinely underpaid by Asmussen’s company. They allegedly fudged the payroll numbers by failing to pay overtime, hiding hours worked, and telling employees to authorize bad timesheets.

“Employers who shortchange their workers not only damage their employees; they also undercut their law-abiding competitors,” said David An, the Wage and Hour Division’s District Director.

All told, the defendants in the case must pay:

  • $281,900 for unpaid wages
  • $281,900 for damages
  • $46,200 for civil penalties

They also must:

  • Maintain accurate records of employees’ hours
  • Adopt an electronic timekeeping system
  • Train supervisors in the Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Give employees information on the Fair Labor Standards Act in English and Spanish

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