In an announcement this past Friday (Jan. 29, 2010), poultry processor Pilgrim’s Pride said it had agreed to fork over $1 million in back and unpaid overtime wages, including an acknowledgment that it will henceforth pay workers for the time spent donning and doffing their uniforms and work-related gear.

Though Pilgrim’s Pride is a substantial operation, no company of any size is immune from unpaid wage investigations and litigation, especially in light of the recent beefing up, personnel-wise, of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD).

Employers and human resource professionals should take care to classify their employees correctly, either as exempt (no overtime) or non-exempt (subject to overtime) and then pay accordingly–or be subject to employee complaints and subsequent visits by WHD investigators. Obtain a copy of Personnel Concepts’ Fair Pay Discrimination Compliance Kit to ensure you’re doing everything correctly to avoid the fate of firms like Pilgrim’s Pride.