Positive verdict for Tyson in donning, doffing case

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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COLUMBUS JUNCTION, Iowa – A federal jury in Iowa last week returned a verdict in favor of Tyson Foods Inc. in a class action lawsuit, filed in 2007, which alleged Tyson did not pay production workers at the company’s Columbus Junction, Iowa, pork plant for certain pre- and post-shift donning and doffing activities and associated walking and washing activities.

According to a statement from the company, the jury found that plaintiffs failed to prove their claims on a class-wide basis and that the plaintiffs were not entitled to any financial damages. In addition, the jury determined that Tyson’s payment practices were in compliance with the law in that Tyson relied in good faith on an enforcement position taken by the US Department of Labor.

Tyson issued the following statement:

“We appreciate the time and consideration of the issues given by the jury in this case and are pleased with the verdict. We value our team members and have strived to comply with federal wage and hour laws that are not precise in their description of which pre-shift and post-shift activities are compensable.

“This case is another example of an ongoing nationwide legal debate over what types of activities are compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act and under certain state laws. In fact, numerous, similar ‘donning and doffing’ cases have been filed over the years involving the food industry and many other kinds of jobs, including steel and auto workers and even police officers. The jury’s verdict vindicates the company’s on-going efforts to pay our team members appropriately while maintaining compliance within the changing landscape of this area of law.

“We’re proud of our Louisa County pork plant and the more than 1,100 team members we employ there.”

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