Cheese factory hit with labor fines

Jan. 21, 2005 at 1:03 AM
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ELGIN, Ill., Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Federal authorities took to task an Illinois cheese factory that failed to pay employees overtime wages, billing them $181,895 in back wages.

The Elgin (Ill.) Courier-News reported Thursday that the Grater Inc. cheese factory had failed to keep track of employees' overtime work, including 50- and 70-hour work weeks. The U.S. Labor Department ordered the company to pay 108 employees -- both current and former -- the nearly $182,000 in back pay.

"The law was explained to them and they agreed to comply," a Labor Department spokesman said. "They made whatever adjustments were necessary to come into compliance."

The factory, which slices, packages and distributes blocks of cheese, had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Labor Department ruled. That act requires companies to pay employees time and a half of their hourly wage for working any hours over the 40-hour work week.

Labor Secretary Elaine Chao trumpeted the ruling as a testament to the Bush administration's dedication to all workers, but the findings came after almost nine months of investigations. Most cases take 92 days to close, the paper reported.

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