STORM LAKE, Iowa — A federal judge has rejected Tyson Foods’ request for a new trial in a case that awarded $5.8 million to thousands of employees seeking back pay at the company’s pork plant in Storm Lake, Iowa.
Tyson lawyers filed a brief in June saying a new trial was necessary to address liability and damages issues and ensure workers included in the suit are entitled to a share of the award, according to the Sioux City Journal (http://bit.ly/2eoowdK ).
Storm Lake employees sued Tyson in 2007 to collect back pay for the time they spent putting on and taking off protective work clothes and equipment before and after their shifts. Tyson did not keep complete records on how much time workers spent on dressing up and down, so employees had to prove the damages based on the expert’s statistical inferences of how long employees had to spend getting ready.
U.S. District Judge John Jarvey said in his ruling Thursday that the payment method ensures workers not entitled to damages won’t receive a portion of the award. Workers receiving an award are required to have worked 40 hours per week and earned at least $50 in damages.
The Supreme Court upheld the award in March, despite Tyson’s appeal to the court challenging the means by which the class-action was granted and whether statistics can be used to determine damages for all workers.
Tyson spokeswoman Caroline Ahn declined to comment on the ruling.