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.”

Wal-Mart Violates Overtime Laws; Settles With DOL

Wal-Mart recently settled a case with the U.S. Department of Labor involving violations of the FLSA’s overtime provisions for $33 million.  The case involved 87,000 salaried and hourly employees who were not paid at the proper overtime rates.  The retail giant improperly calculated overtime payments by failing to include bonus payments into the employees pay rate when calculating overtime premium.  The agreement also addresses payment of overtime to certain non-exempt salaried interns, manager trainees, and programmer trainees.  While violations of this nature are common, Steven Mandel, an associate solicitor at the Department of Labor, said "these are serious violations."

Wal-Mart, facing approximately 70 lawsuits for wage and hour violations throughout the country, reported these violations to the Department of Labor and then settled with the DOL.  A spokesman for Wake-Up Wal-Mart, Chris Kofinis, criticized the agreement stating, "How do you negotiate a deal on behalf of workers when workers aren't included in the negotiations."  The employees had no independent legal representation in the settlement process.  As a result, Wal-Mart was likely able to settle the case for less than their actual liability.  Wal-Mart also avoided assessment of fines or penalties.