Thousands of Tyson Foods employees have recently been handed a decisive victory from the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), which voted 6 to 2 to uphold a $5.8 million settlement awarded by a lower court for Tyson’s overtime pay violations.
According to court documents for this case (Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo et al, Case No. 14-1146), Tyson had allegedly failed to adequately pay employees at an Iowa meat processing plant for the time they spent putting on (donning) and taking off (doffing) protective gear.
This protective gear was essential to the safe performance of “grueling and dangerous” tasks, such as slaughtering hogs and preparing meat for processing and shipment.
As the complaint explains, Tyson allegedly:
Upholding the District Court’s decision in this case, SCOTUS ultimately ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, who included 3,344 Tyson employees. Writing the high court’s concurring opinion, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy explained that:
It bears emphasis that this problem appears to be one of petitioner’s own making. Respondents proposed bifurcating between the liability and damages phases of this proceeding for the precise reason that it may be difficult to remove uninjured individuals from the class after an award is rendered. It was petitioner who argued against that option and now seeks to profit from the difficulty it caused.
As part of its ruling, SCOTUS also noted that Tyson Foods reserved the right to challenge individual payments to employees who were not eligible to overtime pay as part of this settlement.
If you have been the target of wage theft – or any violation of your rights as a California worker, contact a Los Angeles employment law attorney at the Azadian Law Group, PC for a free case to review to find out more about your options for recovery and justice.
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