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U.S. Department of Labor Finds Wage and Child Labor Violations At Three Mississippi Poultry Processing Plants

MORTON, MS – After investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), three Mississippi poultry processing plants have paid $45,719 in back wages to 129 employees to resolve minimum wage and overtime violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

WHD investigated Peco Foods Inc., headquartered in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and operating in Canton, Mississippi; Koch Foods of Mississippi LLC, headquartered in Park Ridge, Illinois, and operating in Morton, Mississippi; and Pearl River Foods LLC, headquartered in Gainesville, Georgia, and operating in Carthage, Mississippi.

The investigations found the employers failed to pay final paychecks to multiple workers, resulting in minimum wage violations. In addition, WHD found Pearl River Foods made illegal deductions from some employees’ paychecks for uniform items like gloves and aprons, resulting in minimum wage violations when those deductions caused employees’ rates of pay to fall below the federal minimum wage. WHD also determined Koch Foods of Mississippi failed to include production bonuses in employees’ regular rates of pay when calculating overtime. Excluding those bonuses, and basing overtime only on workers’ hourly rates, resulted in the employer paying overtime at rates lower than those required by law.

WHD also assessed Koch Foods a $1,693 civil penalty for violating child labor requirements of the FLSA when they employed a 15-year-old minor to work in meat processing, a prohibited occupation for workers under the age of 18.

“Employers must pay their employees all of the wages they have earned for all of the hours they have worked, no later than their regularly scheduled payday. In addition, child labor laws exist to ensure that when young people work, the work does not jeopardize their health and well-being,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Audrey Hall, in Jackson, Mississippi. “The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to educating employers and improving compliance with federal wage laws to protect American workers. We encourage employers to reach out to us with questions and to use the wide variety of tools we offer to ensure they clearly understand their responsibilities.”

The Department offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law, such as online videos and confidential calls to local WHD offices.

For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Employers that discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd.

WHD’s mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation’s workforce. WHD enforces federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD also enforces the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis-Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

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