US chicken producer Pilgrim's Pride will pay US$1m in overtime back wages to 798 current and former employees at its Dallas, Texas, processing plant. 

In an announcement on Friday (29 January), the US Department of Labour said that the group would have to pay the back wages for time spent putting on and removing work-related clothing.

The government agency had accused Pilgrim's Pride of violating the Fair Labour Standards Act because it failed to pay employees for all hours worked, including time spent donning and taking off protective clothing.

However, Pilgrim's Pride insisted that both the company and the Department of Labour acknowledge that the agreement “does not constitute any admission that the company violated any provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act”.

“As part of the settlement, Pilgrim's Pride has agreed to modify certain time collection practices, which have been standard in the industry for decades, in order to resolve the government's "donning and doffing" case and satisfy the concerns expressed by the Department of Labour,” the company added.

Pilgrim's Pride was not available for further comment at time of press.