18 Tyson Overtime Lawsuit Consolidated

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered that pre-trial proceedings in 18 wage and hour lawsuits against Tyson Foods Inc. be consolidated. Tyson workers in Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas filed lawsuits for unpaid overtime wages. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Tyson-owned IBP, Inc. violated the FLSA by failing to pay workers in South Dakota for the time they spent donning and doffing required sanitary and protective gear and equipment, as well as associated waiting and walking time. 

In September 2007, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals determined that donning and doffing required gear and equipment by Tyson workers constituted work as a matter of law. Still, Tyson chooses to not pay many workers for time spent changing into or out of protective clothing, waiting in lines to retrieve the clothing or perform production work, or walking from the locker rooms to their work stations.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that: “Robert Camp of The Cochran Firm in Birmingham, Ala., who represents more than 1,000 clients in a suit against Tyson, said it could work to the plaintiffs' advantage also to all be heard in one court.”

Koch Foods Agrees to Pay Unpaid Overtime Wages to Poultry Workers

A poultry plant in Mississippi agreed to pay 174 workers $326,971 after an investigation by the DOL. Koch Foods, the company that owns and operates the plant, did not pay its employees the required overtime premium (time and a half) for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. The company also neglected to pay some employees drive time for transporting crews to work sites in violation of federal law. Lawsuits and Department of Labor enforcement actions aimed at illegal pay practices in the meat and poultry processing industries are quite common. Typically, these claims relate to the failure to pay for all hours worked by the employees.