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Horse trainer to pony up $1.6 million in back wages, penalties

Trainer Chad Brown looks on during morning workouts

Trainer Chad Brown looks on during morning workouts in preparation for the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 2. Credit: Getty Images/Michael Reaves

Preakness Stakes-winning horse trainer Chad C. Brown and his company have agreed to pay $1.6 million in back wages, damages and civil penalties following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Brown, founder and owner of Chad Brown Racing, which provides care and training to thoroughbred horses at Belmont Park in Elmont and in Saratoga, engaged in “willful violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the labor provisions of the H-2B non-immigrant visa program,” according to a Wednesday news release from the department.

Brown and his attorney did not respond to phone calls and an email seeking comment.

Brown failed to pay overtime from December 2014 through August 2017 to 150 current and former groomers and hot walkers — stable workers who exercise horses and cool them down after races — “for all hours worked in excess of forty in a week," and "falsified time records to conceal actual hours” worked by employees, according to court documents filed by the department.

Brown also violated H-2B program stipulations by collecting payment from H-2B employees for visa costs, misrepresenting job terms and conditions such as the availability of free housing, and failing to reimburse employees’ transportation costs for travel from their home countries, the agency said.

In addition to paying back wages and penalties, Brown’s company agreed to designate a compliance officer to oversee pay practices, adopt an electronic timekeeping system, and train supervisors on the requirements for the FLSA and H-2B provisions, the Labor Department said.

Brown and his company were cited by the New York State Labor Department in 2010 for failure to track workers' hours, the federal agency said.

Chad Brown Racing maintains a year-round training division at Belmont Park, and has its principal office in Mechanicville. In 2017, Brown won his Preakness debut with horse Cloud Computing, who had raced only three times and began his career only three months prior. 

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