Christmas tree grower settles ‘hot goods’ case
A Christmas tree and wreath producer with operations in Oregon must pay more than $300,000 to settle allegations of labor law violations.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit against Bottomley Evergreens and Farms, a North Carolina company that has facilities near Gresham, Ore.
The complaint accused Bottomley of violating the “hot goods” provision of labor law by selling wreaths made by workers who weren’t paid the minimum wage or overtime wages.
According to DOL, Bottomley paid workers based on the number of wreaths they produced “without consideration of the number of hours worked” since at least 2010.
“The records kept by defendants failed to show the hours actually worked each workday and each workweek, the basis upon which wages are paid, and the total straight time and overtime earning for each workweek, with respect to many of its current and former employees,” the complaint said.
Capital Press was unable to reach the company for comment.
In its settlement with DOL, Bottomley and its affiliates “neither admit nor deny the truth of the allegations.”
However, the company agreed to pay workers back wages and damages of nearly $230,000 in addition to $86,700 in civil penalties to DOL.
Bottomley must also submit two reports to the agency detailing the changes made at its facilities in Oregon and North Carolina over two years.
Managers must also undergo training about compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The $315,000 payment comes after Bottomley already paid out $691,000 to workers to settle another lawsuit brought by private attorneys, according to DOL.
Federal court records show that Bottomley also reached a settlement in 2009 with an employee who alleged FLSA violations, but the terms of the deal were kept confidential.
Aside from being a major shipper of Christmas trees and related holiday goods, Bottomnley grows pumpkins and sweet corn.