Chicken workers in Delaware to receive back pay

    (File/WHYY)

    (File/WHYY)

    Close to 250 poultry workers in Delaware will receive back pay as part of a $1.2 million settlement between a North Carolina poultry company and the U.S. Dept. of Labor. 

    Unicon, Inc. paid $600,000 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to 838 workers who rounded up live chickens and worked as van drivers. Investigators with the labor department found the Marshville company failed to pay for all of the hours employees worked on sites through the northeast and southeast. 

    Specifically, investigators said Unicon automatically deducted lunch and other breaks from crew leaders’ and catch crews’ paychecks, when the employees never actually took those breaks. It was also found that the firm failed to pay workers for time they spent picking up crew members or cleaning company vans. These were jobs they performed prior to actually catching the chickens.

    “This agreement goes a long way to ensure that Unicon’s workers are made whole by providing the wages they earned. It also levels the playing field for other employers in the industry,” said Mark Watson, administrator of the division’s Northeast Region. 

    The company was also cited for not maintaining time and payroll records.

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