STORM LAKE, Iowa – The US Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Nov. 10 in Tyson Foods Inc.’s appeal of a $5.8 million class action judgment in a donning-doffing case.
The questions at issue are:
• Whether differences among individual class members may be ignored and a class action certified… or a collective action certified under the Fair Labor Standards Act, where liability and damages will be determined with statistical techniques that presume all class members are identical to the average observed in a sample; and
• Whether a class action may be certified or maintained…or a collective action certified or maintained under the Fair Labor Standards Act, when the class contains hundreds of members who were not injured and have no legal right to any damages.
The case stems from employees at Tyson’s Storm Lake processing plant who claimed they were not fully paid for time spent donning and doffing protective gear before 2010. The employees won their case in US District Court and were awarded $5.8 million in damages and attorney’s fees. But Tyson appealed the judgment to the Eighth Circuit, which later upheld the lower court’s ruling. Tyson argued in its petition to the Supreme Court that the Eighth Circuit wrongly classified the lawsuit as a class action.
The case is Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Peg Bouaphakeo et al., US Supreme Court, No. 14-1146.