Dec 2, 2008
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A former employee at the local Pilgrim's Pride chicken processing plant has filed suit against the company, alleging unfair labor practices. In court papers filed Monday, Jonathan R. Lugo claims Pilgrim’s pride failed to pay time-and-a-half for overtime, as required by law, and forced employees at its Suwannee County plant to work off the clock without compensation.
Lugo worked at the plant from about April 2007 until October 2008.
He claims that he “worked numerous weeks in excess of forty (40) hours a week,” but did not receive one-and-a-half times his regular pay, as required under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
In addition, Lugo charges that he and other workers were routinely expected to work without compensation. Employees were required to arrive before their shifts started in order to don sanitary protective suits, court papers claim. Workers were likewise required to stay after their shifts had ended, in order to remove and clean the protective clothing. Donning and removing the special gear, which workers were required to wear, was done off the clock, Lugo claims.
The same routine applied during unpaid employee lunch breaks, he alleges.
When asked for a response, Ray Atkinson, Director of Corporate Communications for Pilgrim's Pride, said he had not yet seen Lugo’s suit.
"We haven't seen the complaint," he replied by email.
Lugo is seeking damages for unpaid wages, as well as court costs and attorney's fees. He is also asking that other current and former employees of Pilgrim's be notified so that similar claims may be consolidated into a class action lawsuit.
Lugo is represented by local attorney Andrew J. Decker IV.