Processing Magazine

Court revives poultry workers'' pay suit

September 11, 2007

According to the Associated Press, work does not have to be strenuous to merit pay, an appeals court recently ruled in reviving a lawsuit filed by poultry workers. Tyson Foods Inc. workers seek pay for the time they spend donning and doffing protective clothing. A federal jury last year rejected the claims filed on behalf of more than 500 current or former workers at a Lancaster County plant. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court said the trial judge erred in asking the jury to consider whether the gear was cumbersome or heavy. The case hinged on whether those activities constitute "work" under federal labor law. Several courts have found that employers may pay people, such as firefighters, to do nothing but wait for something to happen, the ruling noted. The appeals court remanded the Tyson case to the district judge for further proceedings. The jury verdict came after a day of deliberations that followed a 2-1/2-week trial.