Court Orders Horse Trainer Steve Asmussen Stables to Pay $250K in Penalties, Reimbursements After U.S. Department of Labor Investigation, and Litigation.
Violations include kickbacks, failure to reimburse visas and travel expenses incurred by 39 workers.
NEW YORK (STL.News) KDE Equine LLC — doing business as Steve Asmussen Stables — has entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor to reimburse its grooms and hot walkers $129,776 to resolve violations of the federal H-2B worker program, which permits businesses to employ temporary visa workers.
This is the fourth time in recent years that Asmussen Stables has been ordered to make payments to workers after a Wage and Hour Division investigation, most recently having been ordered to pay more than $500,000 in back wages and damages. The investigation in this latest case found the employer violated numerous commitments that it made during the H-2B visa application process to employ workers in New York. The violations occurred between December 2016 and December 2019.
Specifically, the division determined the employer’s violations included the following:
- Failing to pay workers for costs they incurred during travel to and from the U.S. at the beginning and end of the racing season, including visa fees.
- Seeking and obtaining kickbacks from workers, supposedly to cover Asmussen Stables’ attorney fees.
- Employing workers outside of New York, contrary to statements made to the government.
- Overstating the number of H-2B workers needed by the employer.
- Not disclosing material terms of the position to potential U.S. job applicants, such as that free housing may be available onsite.
“H-2B workers too often find themselves vulnerable to wage shortages and other violations of their rights,” explained Wage and Hour Division District Director David An in Westbury, New York. “Employers like Steve Asmussen Stables who employ H-2B workers must comply with the law or face sanctions, including fines and potentially being barred from the program.”
In addition to the wage recovery, the department assessed Asmussen Stables a total of $75,223 in civil money penalties for its violations. To obtain the employer’s future compliance with H-2B regulations, the settlement includes enhanced compliance measures, including hiring of an independent monitor by KDE to conduct regular audits, providing workers with updated training in languages they understand, forbidding certain managers from being involved in the H-2B program and allowing the division to provide training to Asmussen Stables’ H-2B workers regarding their rights.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Labor