Sam Kane Meat Processing Workers Seek Wages

Judge Hayden Head of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas granted class status to a group of current and former employees of Sam Kane Beef Processors Inc. Judge Head ordered that notice should be sent to all hourly wage earners involved in production, processing, packing and cleaning activities during the three years prior to August 10, 2007. The workers who filed the lawsuit claim that they spend up to 2 hours a day engaging in unpaid work activities, including dressing and undressing, waiting in security lines and sanitizing equipment. Sam Kane Beef Processors argues that all of its employees were already paid for the disputed time.

The Supreme Court, in IBP v Alvarez, determined that meat processing workers must be paid for time spent donning and doffing protective or safety gear and equipment. In Alvarez, the Supreme Court also decided that under the continuous workday rule employees must be paid for all walking and waiting time occurring after donning but before doffing the required gear and equipment. 

Workers in meat processing and poultry plants have sued employers throughout the country. Tyson Foods in particular has faced many lawsuits regarding its alleged illegal pay practices. In 2007 the Third Circuit Court of Appeals decided that Tyson must pay its poultry workers for donning and doffing their safety gear. Pay practices at Tyson’s Goodlettsville, TN meat processing facility have been challenged in a lawsuit joined by over 600 workers. That case is scheduled for trial in August 2008.