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Workers, rancher reach a settlement in labor dispute

Even after the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was established as federal law in 1938, safeguarding employees in Minneapolis and elsewhere from being underpaid and overworked, there are still some jobs and fields where workers are often taken advantage of. This is because employment law is not applicable to some jobs and, in other cases there may be factors that prevent employees from reporting wage, hour and other working condition violations.

Three men who came to the U.S. on temporary work visas reportedly alleged their employer, a sheep rancher in Washington, violated their employee rights. According to reports, the men claimed that while they were hired as sheepherders, a job for which the minimum wage employment law does not apply, that was not the job that they performed. They suggested that, at only $750 per month, the rancher underpaid them for the work that they performed and would also withhold their wages from them.

As a result of their alleged mistreatment, the men filed a lawsuit against the rancher and the agency that recruited them for the jobs, Western Range Association (WRA). Although the rancher and WRA have continued to deny the men’s employment claims, they recently reached a settlement out of court. According to reports, together WRA and the rancher will pay the men $110,000, a decision both of the lawsuit’s targets claimed was financial, not an admission of guilt.

For many workers, the fear of losing their job altogether or of being subjected to worsened conditions, may prevent them from speaking up about employment law violations. It can be important to report illegal employment practices, both to ensure your rights are upheld and to prevent others from being victim to the same mistreatment. An attorney can help you to decide how best to proceed based on your situation.

Source: Yakima Herald-Republic, “Centerville rancher agrees to settle labor lawsuit for $110,000,” Pat Muir, Oct. 18, 2013

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