The U.S. Department of Labor sued the owner of five Casper radio stations this week, alleging Mt. Rushmore Broadcasting improperly paid some employees.
The suit claims workers at Mt. Rushmore received less than federal minimum wage and weren’t paid overtime when they worked more than 40 hours a week. The allegations date as far back as August 2008, according to the complaint.
Federal authorities also accuse the company of failing to keep adequate records related to employee work hours.
Mt. Rushmore President Jan Charles Gray disputed the allegations in a statement emailed to the Star-Tribune.
“The filing is bogus and unfortunate,” said Gray, who’s named in the lawsuit. “The accusations themselves are not accurate, [coming] from disgruntled former employees, some of whom are convicted felons.”
Labor Department attorney Beau Ellis did not respond Tuesday to a message seeking comment.
Mt. Rushmore Broadcasting is licensed to operate four FM stations in Casper: KMLD 94.5, KASS 106.9, KQLT 103.7 and KHOC 102.5. It also owns KVOC-AM 1230 in Casper, along with stations in Rawlins and in South Dakota.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court for Wyoming, accuses the company of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. It seeks unpaid wages and damages equal to the compensation owed to the workers, as well as an order preventing the company from further delaying payment of minimum wage and overtime.
Six former employees are listed in the suit. Their tenure at Mt. Rushmore varied considerably. One man worked at the company for only two weeks. Another was employed for three years.
The lawsuit does not indicate how much money they were allegedly shorted.
Gray maintains that even if the allegations were accurate, exemptions in the Fair Labor Standards Act prevent the rules from applying to his company.
“This is an unconstitutional action by the Department of Labor to target small business,” he said.
The lawsuit is only the latest battle between Mt. Rushmore Broadcasting and the federal government. In July, the Federal Communications Commission announced it was fining the company $68,000 for violations stemming from the use of unlicensed radio transmitter links. The links send audio from a studio to an off-site transmitter, where it can be rebroadcast.
The FCC also issued a $21,500 fine in May after an inspection found Mt. Rushmore wasn’t staffing its AM and FM stations in Hot Springs, S.D. and used an unauthorized antenna at the FM station.
The commission also fined the company in 2008, 2002 and 1998.