Ken Bennett's Family Business Accused by Ex-Employee of Wage Violations

An oil company owned by the family of Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett is being sued for alleged wage violations and retaliation against a former employee.

Bennett's Oil Company -- of which the Secretary of State is the former CEO and a current director -- is being accused by a former cashier of failing to pay overtime wages, withholding wages, then reducing his hours after he complained about it to the point that he had to call it quits.

In the lawsuit, Kenneth McKinnie says he worked for the Prescott-based oil-distribution company as a full-time employee for more than a year, starting in December 2010.

McKinnie says he was paid by the hour -- between $7.50 and $7.75 -- and didn't get paid a penny more than that, although he claims he worked approximately 51 hours per week over his 16 months with the company.

McKinnie's lawsuit contends the Fair Labor Standards Act applies here, and says he deserved time-and-a-half on several occasions -- like the time McKinnie says he worked 133.30 in a two-week stretch.

According to the lawsuit, McKinnie complained to his supervisor about not receiving the overtime pay, and the lawsuit says his hours were cut to as low as 12 hours per pay period -- although the length of the pay period isn't defined.

McKinnie claims he was forced to resign at the end of March since his hours were slashed, which he believes was a result of complaining about not receiving overtime pay.

McKinnie's seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Several of the company's employees, and members of the Bennett family, including the Secretary of State, are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Secretary of State Bennett's biography lists him as the company's CEO from 1985 to 2006 -- well before McKinnie was hired. He's still on the board of directors, according to his bio.

When asked to comment on the claims, Bennett's Oil Company president Lenora Nelson told New Times in an e-mail that the company has not been served with the lawsuit.