VictoryLand may owe former workers back pay - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

VictoryLand may owe former workers back pay

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

VictoryLand may owe some of its workers back pay, after a ruling from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. It found officials at the Macon County Greyhound Park violated the WARN Act by closing the facility in the face of threatened raids by Governor Bob Riley's Task Force on Illegal Gambling in 2010, without giving hundreds of employees proper notice.

"From the time the Alabama Supreme Court made its ruling that electronic bingo was illegal in the state of Alabama, VictoryLand knew or should have known that it was going to have to shut down," said Mike Segrest, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit.  "And they could have given these workers the 60 days notice that was required."

The lawsuit was filed in October 2010. Last year, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. VictoryLand officials then appealed the ruling to the 11th Circuit.

"The WARN Act has some exceptions and one of them is unforeseen business circumstances, I think being raided certainly falls into that," said Lewis Benefield, Chief Operating Officer for the Macon County Greyhound Park. "There's no way we knew we were going to be raided."

But the Appeals Court upheld most of the District Court's ruling, but sent back for further consideration the claims of workers involved in a January lay-off at the facility for a renovation project. The question is whether they too were eligible for WARN Act notification.

All told, an estimated 1,200 full and part time employees could be eligible for back pay, according to the plaintiff's attorneys.

They said it was the first time the 11th Circuit has considered such a WARN Act case. No new court date has been set.

Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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