KDE Equine, doing business as Steve Asmussen Stables, entered into an agreement with the US Department of Labor to resolve alleged violations of the federal H-2B worker program. The department claimed the New York-based firm failed to reimburse visa and travel expenses incurred by 39 workers. The firm will pay $129,776 to resolve the violations.

The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire noncitizens to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the US. The employment must be for a limited period of time, such as a one-time occurrence, or seasonal or intermittent need.

The department noted that Steve Asmussen Stables failed to pay workers for costs incurred during travel to and from the US, including visa fees, at the beginning and end of the racing season. The firm also sought and obtained kickbacks from workers; employed workers outside of New York, contrary to statements made to the government; overstated the number of H-2B workers it needed; and failed to disclose material terms of the position to potential US job applicants, according to the department.

In addition to the wage recovery, Asmussen Stables will pay $75,223 in civil money penalties for the violations. It will also enhance compliance measures, including hiring an independent monitor to conduct regular audits, providing workers with updated training in languages they understand, forbidding certain managers from being involved in the H-2B program and allowing the department to train H-2B workers regarding their rights.

According to the department, the violations occurred between December 2016 and December 2019.

“H-2B workers too often find themselves vulnerable to wage shortages and other violations of their rights,” Wage and Hour Division District Director David An in Westbury, New York, said in a press statement. “Employers like Steve Asmussen Stables who employ H-2B workers must comply with the law or face sanctions, including fines and potentially being barred from the program.”