Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Employees in Class Action Suit Against Tyson

After a string of business friendly rulings, the Supreme Court has handed a victory out to the working men and women.  In this case, employees at the meat processing facility, Tyson Foods, filed a lawsuit in 2007 claiming that they were entitled to overtime pay and damages because they were not paid for their time spent putting on and taking off protective equipment and walking to their work stations. Tyson Foods challenged this almost 5.8million class action lawsuit and on March 22, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the employees in a six to two ruling by Justice Anthony Kennedy. Thus ruling upheld a 2014 appeals court decision in favor of the employees.

This was one of three  closely watched class action cases to come before the court during its current term. In January, the court ruled six to three against advertising firm Campbell-Ewald, saying a lawsuit could proceed over claims the company violated a federal consumer law by sending unsolicited text messages on behalf of the U.S. Navy.   In the Tyson case, the court was considering an objection to the use of statistics to determine liability and damages. Critics in the business community have described such use of statistics as “trial by formula” that violates defendants’ due process rights, instead of assessing each claim individually for the more than 3,000 current and former employees who are suing.

This ruling was also decided in part because of a 1946 Supreme Court precedent that said plaintiffs can rely on averages in such situations to determine claims under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Justice Kennedy stated that, “While corporate defendants may urge adoption of broad and categorical rules governing the use of representative and statistical evidence in class actions, this case provides no occasion to do so.”  He also stated that, “The ruling does not undercut the court’s major 2011 ruling in favor of Wal Mart Stores Inc., which made it harder to bring class action cases.

The court did not address the question of whether a class action lawsuit should move forward if the group of plaintiffs includes people who were not impacted.  The jury found in favor of the plaintiffs following a federal district court trial in Iowa in 2011.

Cases similar to this one occur all too often. If you or someone you know feel that you have been denied wages or overtime pay that you deserve, you should contact one of our caring and experienced employment and overtime pay lawyers at the Higgins Firm. We know how hard you work for your money  and we will do all we can to help you We will review your claim and  answer any questions you may have. Then our legal team will see to it that you get the compensation you are entitled to. We will also fight on your behalf to make sure the company responsible is held accountable for their actions.

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