CROWLEY, LA — A coronavirus-related federal whistleblower investigation prompted a referral to the U.S. Department of Labor and an investigation that recovered $138,629 in back wages for 100 employees of a southwest Louisiana seafood processor.
The department’s Wage and Hour Division found Acadia Processors LLC violated the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime requirements when the employer paid only straight time to employees when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. The employer, who paid employees on a piece-rate basis, must also include incentives and bonuses in the calculation of overtime pay. The company distributes seafood, mainly crawfish, and other Cajun food products from its facilities in Crowley.
“Our investigation found a significant number of workers were being denied their legally earned wages,” said Wage and Hour District Director Troy Mouton in New Orleans. “These violations occurred amid the pandemic when food industry workers put themselves at risk to support the economy and supply U.S. consumers. Ensuring that these workers receive the pay they earned is among the division’s top priorities.”
In June 2020, the Center for Migrant Rights filed a whistleblower complaint with the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration on behalf of two former Acadia Processors’ workers who tested positive for coronavirus and allege the company fired them after they raised concerns about safety protocols at housing provided by the employer. During OSHA’s ongoing investigation, the agency made the Wage and Hour Division aware of Family First Coronavirus Act irregularities.