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Workers seek unpaid wages and overtime from Kansas slaughterhouse

BusinessWeek reports that two employees at a Creekstone Farms slaughterhouse in Arkansas City, Kansas, recently filed a federal lawsuit against their employer demanding an unspecified amount of unpaid overtime and wages.

The employees' complaint claims that Creekstone Farms routinely pays hourly meat processing employees based on the principle of "gang time," in which workers are only paid for the time their assigned production lines are running, including 10 minutes a day to put on protective clothing. The suit says that workers were not paid for overtime work.

One of the plaintiffs, a 42-year-old single mother of three, said that the plant failed to pay her for two to two-and-one-half hours per week, and that when she went in to complain about the matter, she was threatened with termination. She filed the wage lawsuit after the husband of one of her daughters, a man who is also a coworker at the plant-was injured at work and filed a claim against the company. The woman said managers at the plant humiliated her in front of her co-workers, which prompted her to file the wage lawsuit.

The two employees named in the suit are seeking class-action status on behalf of the 700 employees who worked at the plant over the past three years.

The attorney representing the workers said the gang-time principle was in common use at the facility and that it indicates that the employer has as attitude of "catch me if you can."

The marketing director of Creekstone Farms turned down a request to comment on the pending lawsuit.

Source: BusinessWeek, "Workers file wage lawsuit against Creekstone Farms," Roxana Hegeman, 7 April 2011.

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