A legal decision upholding the rights of workers at Tyson Foods pork processing plants came under fire recently as Tyson filed a petition to have a $5.8 million judgment overturned. The judgment was initially awarded following a case in U.S. District Court that found workers at a plant in Iowa had not been properly compensated for the time it takes to sanitize equipment when their shifts end, nor the time involved in putting on and taking off protective gear required for working at the plant.
At the time the case was filed, Tyson paid workers an additional four to seven minutes’ pay each day for these activities, but workers said the time actually used in performing the activities was much greater – sometimes as much as 30 minutes. Tyson responded by increasing the extra pay to 20 to 22 minutes’ extra pay for each shift for its hourly employees.
The workers’ legal team countered by claiming Tyson violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as well as state laws by neglecting to pay overtime for actual time worked, and the class action suit was filed and won.
But now, Tyson is claiming the suit does not qualify as a class action suit under guidelines set forth in similar rulings by the Supreme Court because it’s based on complaints from a subset of workers and not the entire workforce included in the suit. Whether Tyson is able to prove its claim and have the ruling overturned remains to be seen. Until then, workers at the Iowa plant and in other states must continue to live with Tyson’s earlier decision to add 20 to 22 minutes of extra pay, personally assuming the loss for any additional time they spend adhering to mandatory sanitation guidelines.
Are you confused about your rights in the workplace? Call Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP right now at (212) 688-5640, or email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org, to explore what you can do about an employer who has harassed you or violated other laws, like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or New York Labor Laws (NYLL).