The Lawrence Humane Society has agreed to pay $10,000 in back wages to its employees following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, the society confirmed Tuesday.
Humane Society Board President Megan Hiebert said an investigation determined that employees were not correctly being paid for overtime or were being required to work after clocking out.
An employee filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor in October. An investigation by that agency found that six employees were not properly paid and were due $3,000 in wages. Hiebert said the society’s board of directors conducted its own review of other employees who were not subject to the Department of Labor investigation. That review found 14 employees who were owed $7,000 in back wages.
The payments will be made to the employees by Feb. 25, Hiebert said.
“We are committed to correcting this situation and protecting the rights of our employees,” Hiebert said in a statement. “We are deeply distressed that these violations occurred and we are implementing appropriate policies and processes to ensure it does not happen in the future. We will work diligently with our executive director to ensure our workers are properly paid in the future.”
Hiebert said the pay problems occured over a period of two years. She declined to give more details about the nature of the violations, but noted that the U.S. Department of Labor did not levy a fine against the Humane Society, other than ordering the back wages be paid.
“I just know that the staff is very dedicated to serving the animals,” Hiebert said.
Hiebert also declined to comment on whether any personnel actions would be taken regarding the issue. Hiebert did confirm that longtime Humane Society leader Midge Grinstead remains in her position as executive director.
In early November, the Humane Society’s board of directors placed Grinstead on administrative leave for unspecified personnel reasons. In late November, she was reinstated. An attempt to reach Grinstead for comment was unsuccessful.
“We regret being in this position and we are committed to making right to our employees,” Hiebert said. “We’re working with the staff on policies and procedures to ensure full compliance with labor standards as we move forward.”
Hiebert said the board also was undertaking a broader review of shelter operations to ensure that other regulations and policies are being followed.
“We’re working very diligently on that,” Hiebert said.