The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a lower court decision in favor of employees at Tyson Foods Inc. that included a $5.8 million award in their favor in a pay dispute over previously unpaid time spent by workers putting on and taking off protective work clothes and equipment. Tyson argued that the employees do their jobs when they are on the slaughter and/or processing floors, and not while preparing for that work.
The justices voted 6-2 to reject restrictions Tyson requested on its workers’ ability to band together to confront the company over workplace and pay issues. In doing so, the court ruled that the workers acted properly in bringing forth statistical evidence to substantiate their collective case, relying on a 70-year old opinion holding that workers may use statistical information in compensation lawsuits where an employer does not maintain adequate work hour records.
Lieff Cabraser partner Rachel Geman commented on the decision: “Tyson is an important ratification of the principle that substantive proof cannot be more stringent in a class action, which is a procedural device, than in an individual case. Related, the case shows that statistical methods are suitable to show liability where appropriate. By giving a contemporary imprimatur and context to the seminal rulings about representative proof in Anderson, and showing how Dukes supports class certification when Rule 23 is satisfied, Tyson is a useful roadmap for parties and courts in litigation that is seeking to vindicate basic rights for often low-paid employees.”
Scott Michelman of Public Citizen Litigation Group, an attorney for the workers, lauded the ruling as “a strong reaffirmation of workers’ rights to join together in taking their employer to court for failing to pay wages due under state and federal laws.”
National Employee Rights Attorneys at Lieff Cabraser
Lieff Cabraser has a strong tradition of fighting for employee rights across America. Our employment law class action cases challenge (a) discrimination based on employees’ race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability; (b) wage violations, including failure to pay overtime, break time, or vacation time; and (c) misuse of employees’ retirement benefits. We also represent employees who “blow the whistle” on wrongdoing by their employers as well as in other cases alleging violations of the law.
Learn more about Lieff Cabraser’s work on behalf of employees across America.