The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against meat producer Tyson Foods Inc.’s pork processing plant in Iowa on March 22, in favor of more than 3,000 Tyson employees involved in a pay dispute with the company.
Supreme Court justices voted 6-2 against the new limits that Tyson requested be imposed on its workers’ ability to group together to challenge pay and other issues in the workplace. However, the court ruled in favor of Tyson’s employees in the $5.8 million settlement, citing one of the world’s top meat producers for failing to pay employees for time spent dressing and undressing with protective work clothing and equipment before their shifts.
According to reports, Tyson’s appeal argued that the company should not have been forced to defend the class-action lawsuit claiming it “failed to pay thousands of ‘knife-wielding’ employees and others for time spent putting on and taking off protective work clothes and equipment at its Storm Lake, Iowa, plant. The employees do their jobs on the plant's slaughter or ‘kill’ floor and on the processing or ‘fabrication’ floor.”
In his majority opinion, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy rejected the argument by Tyson and its supporters to rule out statistical evidence in previous cases with the producer on sex discrimination. "A categorical exclusion of that sort...would make little sense," Kennedy wrote.
The case is Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo, 14-1146.