WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a massive, multi-million dollar overtime pay settlement awarded by a lower court to thousands of current and former Tyson’s Food employees claiming they were never paid proper overtime wages for donning and doffing their protective gear needed to perform their job.
The Supreme Court voted 6-2 in favor of the plaintiffs, sealing the deal and finally giving hard working employees their duly earned wages.
According to reports, 3,344 employees from Tyson’s Storm Lake, Iowa pork processing plant will share the $5.8 million settlement as compensation for their unpaid wages for the time it took them to gear up for work.
The employees were responsible for slaughtering, cutting, cleaning, and otherwise processing hogs at the facility and would wear various types of work gear depending on their role at the plant.
According to the complaint, Tyson Foods allegedly only paid their employees for a very small amount time to don and doff their gear (approximately 4 to 7 minutes) even though it would take the workers much longer.
The claim alleges Tyson Foods raised this time to over 20 minutes after 2010 but this was several years after the time period litigated in the overtime pay lawsuit.
Tyson Foods internally referred to this donning and doffing as “gang time.” Only after a federal injunction in 1998 did Tysons even begin paying its workers for its part of their job. For a period of time, Tysons had compensated its employees uniformly for this time but ceased that practice at some point.
Employer Failed to Keep Proper Overtime Records
Furthermore, the complaint accused Tyson Foods of failing to keep adequate time records pertaining to its employees donning and doffing their gear. Attorneys for Tyson’s Food contended it took some employees only a few seconds to put on their required work gear but could not back up the assertion due to the records discrepancies.
In its opinion, the Supreme Court called the work grueling and dangerous. Despite the perils of the job, Tyson Foods none the less failed to adequately compensate its hardworking employees for the rigors of the work.
Don, Doff Overtime Pay Lawsuit
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