Stearns County Dairy at Center of Wage Theft Investigation
ST. PAUL (WJON News) - A Stearns County Dairy is at the center of a civil lawsuit filed Monday morning by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.
Evergreen Acres Dairy, Evergreen Estates, Morgan Feedlots, and owners Keith Schaefer and Megan Hill have been accused of:
- Systematically depriving its employees of at least three million dollars in wages by shaving both regular and overtime hours.
- Not paying wages at the beginning or end of workers' employment.
- Unlawfully deducting rent for substandard onsite housing that fails to meet standards of habitability under Minnesota Law.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison made the announcement:
Every worker deserves to take home every dollar they earn and live with dignity, safety, and respect. That Evergreen systemically and deliberately deprived its employees of all the wages they have earned is a shock to the conscience, and the conditions under which its employees live are abhorrent and illegal. My office will fight to make sure the hardworking people who put food on our tables can afford to feed their own families and live in safe housing. We will also fight to make sure that businesses that play by the rules are not unfairly undercut by those who unlawfully exploit vulnerable workers and tenants.
Attorney General Ellison further alleges Evergreen attempted to cover up its illegal practices by:
- refusing to document most of its employment practices in writing
- failing to provide employees with written information about how they are paid
- falsifying paystubs
- destroying the timecards that would show how many hours its employees actually worked.
Evergreen also acts as a landlord, making unauthorized deductions from its employees’ paychecks for the housing it leases to them. The suit alleges that Evergreen’s employee housing violates Minnesota’s most basic health and safety standards. Most of this rental housing appears to have severe insect infestations, pervasive microbial growth, and other health and safety issues.
Pictures of the rental housing provided by the MN Attorney General's Office
Evergreen workers can find more information about the Attorney General’s enforcement action, housing resources, and deferred action at this website (available in English and Spanish) and are encouraged to contact investigators David Pegg (651-278-2276; David.firstname.lastname@example.org) and Maria Minvielle (651-300-7524; email@example.com).
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