In 2007, Peg Bouaphakeo and other employees at the Storm lake facility sued Tyson for back pay for time the employees spent putting on and taking off (donning and doffing) protective gear before and after shifts. A federal jury awarded the workers $5.8 million in 2011 and the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision in 2014. Tyson then petitioned the Supreme Court.
In March of 2016, the Supreme Court upheld the lower court ruling 6-2 that certified a donning-doffing lawsuit against Tyson as a class action. The justices remanded the case to the district court to decide whether there are “uninjured class members” who are not entitled to recover damages. Tyson said uninjured workers had no legal right to damages. In this case, the class could include 3,000 workers.
“The judgement total remains $5.8 million and the class includes 3,900 current and former workers,” Gary Mickelson, spokesman for Tyson Foods told MEAT+POULTRY in a statement. “The average payout will be $1,700; however, we don’t know yet when the distribution will begin. We’re pleased this matter is nearing completion and has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties involved.”