Supreme Court Rules Against Tyson

March 22, 2016
Court upholds $5.8 million judgment from 2007 class action.

The U.S. Supreme Court on March 22 upheld a lower court's decision, which itself upheld a $5.8 million class action judgment against Tyson Foods for underpaying workers at an Iowa pork-processing facility.

The gist of the suit was whether employees should be paid for time spent dressing in special garb and protective equipment required for their line jobs  "donning and doffing" in labor law parlance – and then walking to their line positions.

Tyson contested the original judgment, then appealed on a legal technicality: that statistics were used to determine liability and damages for a large and not entirely defined class of employees, rather than specific damages or claims. More than 3,000 current and former employees were part of the lawsuit.

The court ruled 6-2 to uphold a 2014 appeals court decision in favor of the workers, according to Reuters news agency.

Workers at the meat-processing facility, which employs around 1,300 people, sued in 2007, according to Reuters. A jury found in favor of the plaintiffs following a federal district court trial in Iowa in 2011, and the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the judgment in 2014.

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