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Tyson Workers to Receive $32M in Wage and Hour Settlement

September 26, 2012

Costa Mesa-based employment attorney Vincent Howard has been following the recent announcement of a $32 million dollar wage and hour settlement, that will reportedly end a 12 year legal battle between Tyson Foods and the company's 12,000 poultry workers, and has been called the largest settlement against a large poultry company in U.S. history.

The wage and hour lawsuit reportedly accused Tyson of violating provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and robbing workers of their wages by failing to compensate them for the time they spent putting on and removing (donning and doffing) their protective gear, necessary to wear for their own protection, and to keep the food they handle safe during processing. Tyson was also accused of failing to provide workers with their legally entitled rest breaks.

According to the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), the union that represents over 1.3 million workers in the food processing, poultry, retail and meatpacking industries, workers started to take collective action for their rights to fair treatment and fair wages in the workplace in 1999. The workers, along with activists and the UFCW, then took their collective action across the country, spreading the word to other workers nationwide, which quickly turned into a group of 4,000 workers. After the U.S. Department of Labor found that 60 percent of U.S. poultry companies were violating wage and hour laws, a federal lawsuit also developed.

The collective case then reportedly represented workers from several different meat and poultry plants across the country, and went through a number of different judges, until in 2006, the case was dismissed by a judge who declared that the case had too many different plants to be presented as one case. Despite the setback, the workers continued to pursue their legal actions, filing their cases with each individual plant.

The Tyson poultry workers sent the court a settlement agreement in September of last year, which was later approved. In January of 2012, after nearly 12 years, the workers received news that they would finally be receiving their settlement payments. The over 12,000 Tyson workers from 41 plants in 12 different states, will receive payments that average around $1,200 in lost wages.

The UFCW stated that every worker in this country deserves to get paid fairly for the work that they do, and the UFCW is dedicated to changing the way that these poultry and meat industries do business by making sure that workers are compensated fairly for all of their time on the job.

Vincent Howard discussed the wage and hour rights of Tyson workers in a related Anaheim labor and employment lawyers blog, discussing a "donning and doffing" lawsuit filed and settled by the U.S. Department of Labor.

In Huntington Beach, Mission Viejo, and Costa Mesa, California, contact our labor and employment attorneys for a free consultation about your employee wage and hour rights. Call Vincent Howard today, at 1-800-872-5925.

Tyson Workers Receive Long-Awaited Payment from Wage and Hour Lawsuit Settlement: $32 million Settlement Ends 12-year Legal Battle to Get Paid for Hours Worked, UFCW Press Release, September 10, 2012

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Department of Labor: Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Department of Labor (DOL): Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

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U.S. Department of Labor's Agreement with Tyson Foods on "Donning and Doffing" Lawsuit Influences Future Wage and Hour Rights, California Employment Lawyers Blog , June 4, 2010