Joe Appelbaum, president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, issued a statement on Saturday in response to the comments from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday in which Cuomo said a number of Thoroughbred trainers had “stolen” wages from their employees through violation of New York Department of Labor violations.
Appelbaum's statement: “As New York's wage and labor practices continually evolve, New York's Thoroughbred trainers have worked extremely hard to modernize their payment practices. However, they sometimes find themselves in a difficult position as they try to manage agricultural businesses while faced with a myriad of complicated employment rules, many of which are not conducive to the effective care and training of a horse.
“All racetrack workers should be paid fairly and appropriately under the law. No small business is perfectly run and these compliance issues mainly stem from a combination of long-term industry practices, the confusing nature of wage and hour rules and a challenging timekeeping environment.
“We were disappointed with the Department of Labor's language in characterizing these infractions. We had hoped that the DOL would be more willing to work with our industry to develop common sense regulations that are cognizant of the unique challenges our trainers face in working with animals. The DOL's current approach is having a chilling effect on our ability to retain and recruit the hundreds of small agri-businesses that employ thousands throughout our State.
“Our trainers are incredibly hard working and care deeply for their horses and the workers with whom they toil side-by side. Supported by NYTHA's educational programming, which include labor practices seminars and one-on-one consultations with labor lawyers, they have quickly added the tools of modern employment to their businesses. New York's trainers are focused on complying with New York's employment laws and are genuinely concerned about meeting their obligations within a system that fails to recognize the unique nature of our industry.”
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