The US government has sued Pilgrim’s Pride to collect US$3m in back wages that officials say the leading poultry producer owes to more than 500 current and former workers.

The US Labor Department alleges that Pilgrim’s Pride violated a federal law requiring that workers be paid 150% of their regular wage for work which goes over 40 hours a week. 

Specifically, the lawsuit states that Pilgrim’s Pride had failed to pay overtime wages for the time workers in its Dallas facility had spent putting on and taking off protective clothing. It also alleges that the company had failed to keep accurate overtime records since August 2005.

Officials at Pilgrim’s Pride could not be reached for immediate comment.