Penland School of Crafts responds to accusations about working conditions

From the Penland School of Crafts, in response to accusations by former employee John Britt that it did not adequately pay workers for overtime:

This statement is in response to recent public allegations by a former Penland School of Crafts employee regarding Penland’s past compensation practices, specifically in the area of overtime pay.

Five years ago, in 2007, it was brought to Penland’s attention by this employee that there was a technical violation of wage and hour statutes in the School’s methods of calculating and paying for overtime. Penland sought legal counsel to assess its pay practices, and made a good faith effort to address this error with its employees. At that time, in August, 2007, following the advice of counsel, Penland provided remedial pay to its then-current employees, and to former employees who came forward at that time, for overtime worked during the previous two years. At the same time, Penland revised its payroll practices to conform with all statutory requirements. Penland understood that it had met its legal obligations and had resolved the problem for all employees going forward.

Very recently, at the urging of the former employee who raised these allegations, three other former employees, who had not previously come forward, asked Penland about these corrections and the remedial pay. Penland has responded personally to each of them. After considering the amount of time that has gone by, the incomplete nature of some of the older employment records, and the unintentional nature of the payment errors, each of these former employees has concluded that the matter can be considered resolved. None of them are seeking anything further from Penland. Both the law and common sense suggest that it is time to move on.

Penland recognizes that it is extremely fortunate to have a dedicated and hardworking staff. Understandably, many of these individuals could make more money working in the for-profit sector but choose to work at Penland because they believe in the school’s mission, because they value the artistic opportunities of being part of the Penland community, and because they enjoy living in a beautiful part of Western North Carolina. In response to this commitment, Penland tries hard to make the school a good place to work. That includes paying employees properly in accord with applicable state and federal law.

In 2011, Penland again engaged outside legal counsel for a thorough review of its job descriptions, procedures for recording work hours, and methods for calculating overtime pay. The conclusion of the review was that Penland’s compensation procedures are in full compliance with law and reflect current best practices. Under these circumstances, the Penland board is focused on moving forward and considers this matter closed.


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0 thoughts on “Penland School of Crafts responds to accusations about working conditions

  1. Amy Waller

    I submitted this Penland response (posted on their website on Thursday) as a comment on the earlier Mountain Xpress story about the Penland labor practices allegations. In that comment I also included a link to John Britt’s (the former Penland employee) detailed response to this statement. Now that you have published the Penland statement as a standalone story, I hope you will do the same with John Britt’s response. It is posted here:

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