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.