Onion Processor Denied Overtime Pay to Dozens of Workers

Labor Department investigators recovered more than $89,000.

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The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered more than $89,000 in back wages and damages from a Washington state onion processing facility that denied overtime to 49 employees.

Investigators from the department's Wage and Hour Division found that Weston Mountain Onions of Richland, Washington, denied employees the required overtime pay for hours over 40 in a workweek, a Fair Labor Standards Act violation. The underpaid employees unloaded, sorted, cleaned and cut whole onions, including onions from other growers, using mechanized and manual processes, then packed them for shipment.

The division recovered $44,736 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages.

โ€œWorkers have the right to be paid correctly for all the hours that they perform,โ€ said Wage and Hour Division District Director Thomas Silva in Seattle. โ€œWe are committed to helping employers understand their obligations and responsibilities under federal labor law and urge them to take advantage of our services."

The Wage and Hour Division credits collaboration with the Fair Work Center in Yakima for helping complete the investigation successfully. The center is driven by workers from low-wage industries across Washington who use education, relational organizing, and enforcement to raise wages and improve labor standards.

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