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NYS Gaming Commission Chair on wage issues: “This should be a fair warning to all”

The Commission is looking to identify any licensees engaging in bad labour practices.

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During the October public meeting of the New York State Gaming Commission, Chairman Brian O’Dwyer voiced concerns regarding wage issues, involving renowned horse trainers. 

O’Dwyer stated: “Last month, I directed our Horse Racing & Pari-Mutuel Wagering Division to examine the matter of licensed trainers owing significant back-pay to workers, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in H2-B back wages.

"Most trainers and workers at New York State’s racetracks comply with the law, but when we learn of trainers not paying workers, we hold them accountable." 

He went on to explain how a trainer was ordered by the US District Court to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in back wages, penalties and fines.

Furthermore, the Chair also went on to clarify how this was not the trainers and his stables' first time being ordered to pay back wages, damages and fines due to federal labour law violations.

Following this, the trainer was requested by the Commission to provide employment records and to explain why he believes he continues to meet New York State’s standards for licensure. The Commission is currently reviewing his response.

O’Dwyer expanded: “To promptly identify any licensees engaging in bad labour practices, we’ve forged a partnership with the NYS Department of Labor so that the Commission is notified when complaints regarding a trainer’s business practices spur an investigation. 

“This bridges the regulatory gap so that when we learn of trainers engaged in practices that shortchange their employees, we can consider action regarding the trainers’ licensure.

"This should be a fair warning to all. Just as we expect equine athletes to be treated with dignity and respect, so too we expect all who work in the industry to be treated with dignity and respect.”

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