Nearly $1M settlement for Mass. hide firm


BOSTON (AP) -- Federal labor regulators announced a nearly $1 million settlement Monday with a Boston-area supplier of animal hides that allegedly paid workers below minimum wage, failed to pay them for overtime worked, and fired some who cooperated with investigators.

The consent judgment approved by a federal judge ordered Chelsea-based Boston Hides & Furs Ltd. to pay $825,000 in back wages and damages to 14 workers; $100,000 in damages to 10 fired workers; and a $50,000 civil penalty.

The judgment comes after workers went to the U.S. Labor Department with their complaints.

"The treatment of these workers was unconscionable," said Michael Felsen, the department's regional solicitor of labor in Boston.

The agreement is not an admission of guilt, and the case was settled so the company can "move forward with its business," a lawyer for Boston Hides said.

Investigators found that the workers put in 10-hour days, six days per week, processing animal hides and furs for shipping to tanneries around the world. They were paid a daily cash wage of $50 to $70, which amounted to an hourly pay rate far below minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.


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