The Department of Labor has obtained a court-mandated order for Asmussen Racing Stables, a top thoroughbred trainer, to compensate workers with $486,000 in unpaid wages and damages.

The U.S. Department of Labor has recently obtained a court order requiring one of the nation’s most successful thoroughbred horse trainers, KDE Equine LLC, to pay $243,260 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. This comes after an investigation found that the employer’s pay practices were in violation of federal labor laws, denying 163 grooms and hotwalkers at Churchill Downs and Keeneland racetrack in Lexington of their rightful overtime wages.

KDE Equine LLC, founded by Steve Asmussen and operating as Asmussen Racing Stables, has about 200 horses in five states. This is not the first time the company has been found to be in violation of labor laws, as this is the fifth investigation since 2021. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky affirmed the findings of the Wage and Hour Division, stating that the horse trainer failed to pay overtime wages to hotwalkers and grooms. Instead, employees were paid a salary for all hours worked, with occasional extra payments for additional work, but no overtime pay.

Regional Solicitor Tremelle Howard in Atlanta stated, “Several U.S. Department of Labor investigations have found significant violations related to the way KDE Equine pays its employees. When we determine that an employer has violated the rights of its workers to be paid their full, legally earned wages, the Department of Labor will not hesitate to use litigation to hold employers like this, who knowingly disregarded their overtime obligations, accountable under the law.”

The division also found that KDE Equine failed to keep accurate pay records and allegedly attempted to conceal their violations by modifying records to make it appear that employees were paid by the hour. In a previous settlement agreement in August 2023, the company agreed to reimburse grooms and hotwalkers $129,776 and pay $75,223 in penalties for violations of the federal H-2B worker program. In September 2021, the division recovered $563,800 in back wages and damages for 170 employees and assessed $46,200 in penalties after finding that Asmussen failed to properly pay overtime compensation, concealed hours worked by employees, and did not calculate overtime correctly.

Howard added, “More than 160 grooms and hotwalkers whose work enables Asmussen Racing Stables to be successful will soon have the opportunity to recover the back wages they’re owed and liquidated damages they deserve from an employer that mistakenly thought they could win without playing by the rules.” It is clear that the U.S. Department of Labor will continue to take action against employers who violate labor laws and deny their employees their rightful wages.  

Share This Article
Leave a comment