Top N.Y. Horse Trainer Agrees to Settle Another Federal Lawsuit on Wage Theft

PETA Blew the Whistle on Steve Asmussen’s Labor Violations in 2013

For Immediate Release:
September 8, 2021

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Saratoga Springs, N.Y. – Asmussen Racing Stable just agreed to settle with the U.S. Department of Labor over alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act for failing to pay overtime to 170 employees, including grooms and hot walkers at New York state tracks between 2016 and 2020. According to the proposed settlement documents, Steve Asmussen, owner of the stable, is required to pay $600,000 in back wages and penalties.

Asmussen, who just set the record for the most races won by any Thoroughbred trainer, also paid fines and back wages in 2015, after a 2013 PETA investigation revealed that, in addition to other abuse, he neglected to pay laborers their fair wages.

PETA’s investigation revealed that Asmussen and assistant trainer Scott Blasi misused medications, ordered undocumented workers to obtain fake identification and Social Security cards or quit, demanded long hours of workers for little pay, and forced undocumented laborers to sleep in barns and tack rooms.

“PETA found that Asmussen cheated his way to victory on the backs of exploited employees and injured horses—and he hasn’t changed,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “The feds are putting criminal horse trainers on notice with this lawsuit.”

PETA notes that this is the third lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Labor against Asmussen and that the horse-training industry is rife with labor violations. In 2020, trainer George Weaver settled with the agency for $425,000 after it said that he had failed to pay employees the required hourly wage and for overtime. And in 2019, trainer Chad Brown, who has won four consecutive Eclipse Awards for outstanding trainer, paid $1,617,673 for violations that included failing to provide wages promised and misrepresenting job terms and conditions.

The proposed settlement documents are available on request. PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind