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Filings: Massachusetts AG, Iron Horse owner near deal over alleged labor law violations

The entryway to the Iron Horse Music Hall at 20 Center Street in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Ellery Berenger
/
NEPR
The entryway to the Iron Horse Music Hall at 20 Center Street in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Nearly a year after state Attorney General Maura Healey's office announced $100,000 in fines against the owner of several western Massachusetts entertainment venues, a settlement deal is near, according to filings with the state.

Last summer, Iron Horse Ventures president Eric Suher appealed the penalties.

Healey's office had cited the company for not paying wages in a timely manner, not having a sick leave policy, denying the use of paid sick time to certain employees, and failing to furnish true and accurate records to investigators.

Suher's venues include the Iron Horse Music Hall, Calvin Theatre, The Basement and Pearl Street Nightclub in Northampton, as well as Mountain Park in Holyoke.

Filings with the state's Division of Administrative Law Appeals show Healey's office and Iron Horse's attorney, Layla Taylor, have been in settlement negotiations for months.

On April 28, Taylor told a magistrate that the two sides had “reached a tentative agreement and are in the process of finalizing the settlement paperwork." No details of a deal were included.

NEPM obtained copies of the filings through a public records request.

Since April, there have not been any other filings in the case, according to DALA's Edward McGrath. McGrath would not comment on a specific case, but — in an email — said he is not aware of a requirement that a settlement would need approval from the magistrate assigned to the appeal.

The penalties originally levied against Iron Horse included $1,991.76 in restitution to former employees. According to documents included in the public records request, 18 individuals were due to be compensated, with individual payouts between $12 and $605.86.

In a 2019 New England Public Radio report, multiple former IHEG employees accused the company of violating labor laws.

Some said they had hours deducted from their paychecks for breaks that they never took. Others said paychecks were often weeks late. Many were either unaware they were entitled to paid sick leave or had to fight to get the benefit.

A spokesperson for Healey’s office declined to comment on the appeal or the settlement talks, citing the pending litigation.

Suher’s attorney, Taylor, did not return a request for comment. Suher's voicemail was full, and he did not respond to a text message seeking comment.

Sam Hudzik contributed to this report