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Labor Department fines popular boudin stop for shorting workers

29th March 2016   ·   0 Comments

By Eric Craig
Contributing Writer

They not only cooked boudin, but cooked the books. William “Billy” Frey, II’s boudin enterprise shorted its workers overtime pay in order to increase its profits. That’s according to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor New Orleans District Office. Now Billy’s Boudin & Cracklins in Scott, La. must pay back $112,724 in overdue wages to 102 employees, and $25,750 in civil penalties. Additionally, Frey’s boudin enterprise, which also includes a mini mart, a diner, and Ray’s in Opelousas, La., agreed to revise its payment policies.

The Labor Department investigated the enterprise after they were anonymously notified about the wage issues, said Juan Rodriguez, a public affairs specialist in the Department of Labor’s Dallas office.

“The investigation covers a period of 2 years,” Rodriguez said. “That’s how far we can go back. Each employee has the right to hire an attorney and go after more wages if they’re owed,” he added.

In order to protect workers, the department does not disclose how the enterprise was reported, Rodriguez explained.

Currently Billy’s Boudin & Cracklin, owned by Frey, averages a 4.7 star review on Facebook with almost 700 public ratings and over 15,000 public check-ins.

Despite its good reviews on social media, Department of Labor officials said they were disappointed in the enterprise’s treatment of its employees.

“Denying employees their rightfully-earned wages is not only wrong, it is illegal,” said Betty Campbell, a regional administrator for the Department of Labor’s southwest division, in a report.

“This industry employs some of the most vulnerable workers we see. Shorting these workers makes it even more difficult for them to make ends meet, and gives the employer an unfair advantage over its competitors,” Campbell said.

Frey’s enterprise violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by paying employees cash for straight time when employees worked overtime, and not time and a half that is legally required by the federal government. Additionally, Frey’s enterprise violated proper organization of overtime bookkeeping, manipulating books at several locations to cover up shortages in overtime pay. Frey was offsetting the money to increase profits and to keep the cost of operation low, according to a Department of Labor report on the investigation.

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires a minimum wage of at least $7.25 per hour and overtime when an employee works over 40 hours in a week, according to the Department of Labor. Employers are responsible for the documentation of the payroll records and are obliged to show proof on request.

Currently Frey and his wife Patsy Frey own three food enterprises: Billy’s Mini Mart and Diner in Krotz Springs, La; Billy’s Boudin & Cracklins in Scott, La; and Ray’s in Opelousas, La.

The managing staff and workers refused to comment on the Department of Labor’s involvement with the back wages, or on the company’s stance when contacted for this story. Frey was also unavailable for an interview.

In a 2009 interview with Southern Foodways Alliance, Patsy Frey said the job was strenuous work for employees. In the interview she said making boudin can be hard at times, “but sometimes [they] have to work five or six days a week, you know,” Patsy Frey said.

“They come in; some work 12 hours a day. They choose to work 12 hours and be off the next day, you know. They just pretty much work all together,” Patsy Frey said.

After being cited by the Labor Department, Frey has agreed to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act. This included compliance to the act; notifying employees of the protections; train supervisors and managers of the requirements of the act; and to provide proof of their compliance.

Despite the citing, the boudin enterprise is still considered one of the best places to get boudin in Louisiana. Bob Carriker, the primary contributor to, a guide to Louisiana’s extraordinary link, says that it’s still worth going to one of Frey’s enterprises.

Carriker also believes that the enterprise has been so successful because they have “an outstanding product and have the organizational skills to effectively execute in a competitive and stressful industry,” Carriker said.

In comparison to competition, Carriker noted that Frey’s Boudin was not cheaper than the competition and tended to be slightly more expensive. However, Carriker believes it was worth the premium.

“The current book keeping mishap aside, I think what the owners have done, and do, on a day to day basis is impressive,” Carriker said. “It is easy to cast stones at people for their mistakes but let’s remember what they’ve done right, and what they do really well, day in and day out,” he added.

This article originally published in the March 28, 2016 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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