US Department of Labor Alleges Tunica Fish Farm Processing Plant Owners Interfered with Federal Wage Investigation, Seeks Temporary Restraining Order
Date of Action: Sept. 7, 2023
Type of action: US Department of Labor complaint, request for temporary restraining order
Names of defendants: Battle Fish North, Magnolia Processing Inc., William Houston Battle Sr., William Houston Battle Jr., Thomas Cooper Battle
Allegations: The department alleges that a Tunica, Mississippi-based fish farm and processing plant and their owners and operators retaliated against and intimidated workers in violation of federal law during an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division. The agency’s investigation is part of a larger collaborative effort to investigate working conditions for migrant workers.
(STL.News) The department alleges that during the agency’s investigation, the employers attempted to hide evidence, provide false information, and interrupt communications with witnesses. Investigators also found that the employers – Battle Fish North and Magnolia Processing Inc. and members of the family that owns both companies – told workers they did not have to speak with the investigators and threatened to retaliate against them if they did or if they did not lie to the investigators.
Filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, the complaint is accompanied by a motion asking the court to issue a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prevent the employers and the owners and operators from interfering with a federal investigation into the employers’ pay practices.
Quote: “Threatening or intimidating employees to stop them from cooperating with a federal investigation is alarming and unsettling. Such illegal actions interfere with the Department of Labor’s effective enforcement of the Fair Labor Standards Act,” said US Department of Labor Regional Solicitor Tremelle Howard in Atlanta. “By seeking a temporary restraining order, we are showing employers and workers that the department will do everything in its power to protect workers’ rights.”
“Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees have a right to cooperate and participate in an investigation without fear that their employer will threaten or retaliate against them,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Audrey Hall in Jackson, Mississippi. “When employers interfere with these rights, we will work closely with our partners in the Solicitor’s Office to uphold those protections.”
SOURCE: US Department of Labor