US Department of Labor (DOL, Illinois Attorney General recovered $3M in back wages and damages for 283 workers at the Elk Grove processing plant.
A joint investigation finds Greenridge Farms Inc. failed to pay overtime.
CHICAGO, IL (STL.News) A joint investigation by the US Department of Labor and the Illinois Office of the Attorney General has recovered $3 million in back wages, damages, and interest for 283 workers denied overtime owed under federal and state regulations by an Elk Grove meat processing and packaging plant.
In a consent decree filed in state court, Greenridge Farms Inc. agreed to pay the back wages, damages, and interest to resolve a July 2023 lawsuit by the state’s Attorney General. The decree references the settlement agreement Greenridge Farms, owners Michael Madej and Sebastian Madej, and KLC Global Services Ltd. — which performs management and payroll functions for the plant — entered into with the department’s Wage and Hour Division.
The action follows an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division and the State of Illinois that found the deli products manufacturer paid affected workers one rate for all hours worked. Investigators learned the employer issued checks to employees for their first 40 hours and then paid cash for all hours over 40 when, in fact, Greenridge Farms was legally required to pay employees time and one-half their hourly rate of pay for hours over 40 in a workweek.
The investigation determined the employer failed to pay the legally required overtime wages from at least 2013 to 2022 and that the employer violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law.
During the investigation, the state subpoenaed records from Greenridge Farms and discovered the employer sometimes used a second set of books to pay straight time for overtime hours. In Illinois, an employer may be required to repay the back wages due, triple the amount in liquidated damages, and a 5 percent monthly penalty on unpaid wages. State law also allows investigators to review payroll periods dating back three years or more.
“Working with the State of Illinois, our investigators discovered that Greenridge Farms intentionally denied 283 workers their full-earned wages for seven years,” said Wage and Hour District Director Tom Gauza in Chicago. “The wages recovered for these workers will have a significant impact on these workers’ lives. Many of them may have not understood their rights to overtime.”
The consent decree signed by Circuit Court Judge Michael T. Mullen of the Cook County, Chancery Division on Dec. 20, 2023, requires Greenridge Farms to pay $3 million in back wages, damages, and interest owed as a result of the federal and state investigations in installments from December 1, 2023, through October 1, 2025. That amount includes a payment of $1.5 million in back wages and liquidated damages owed to 193 workers from May 24, 2019, through May 24, 2022, the maximum investigative period under federal law. This payment is required as part of a settlement agreement with the Wage and Hour Division.
“The Department of Labor is determined to use all available tools – including working with our partners in the Office of the Illinois Attorney General – to hold employers accountable for depriving employees of their rightful earnings,” explained Regional Solicitor of Labor Christine Heri in Chicago.
Greenridge Farms Inc. of Northbrook operates the Elk Grove plant that specializes in producing various deli products, such as cooked and smoked hams, sausages, and bacon. The company purchases meat from farmers in North Dakota and Indiana and sells its goods to stores in the Chicago metro area and to distributors from New York and Texas.
SOURCE: US Department of Labor