An appeals court in Milwaukee overturned a lower court decision on donning and doffing protective clothing filed by six workers at Tyson Foods in Wisconsin.
Tyson will have to pay its workers at the pizza topping processing facility in Jefferson, Wis., an estimated $1 million in back pay, according to the plaintiff’s council.
The courts have been split on these decisions as numerous cases across the meat industry have occurred over the past few years.
This time the 4th District Court of Appeals sided with the plaintiffs citing “preparatory and concluding" activities were an integral part of their jobs.
The case went back to the lower court to determine the payment due. Plaintiff’s council asked for class-action status, so the decision is expected to benefit all workers in the plant.
Tyson said it is re-evaluating its options for further defense in the case.
Back in 2010 the company settled with the Department of Labor over worker pay as a result of donning and doffing compulsive protective gear.
Tyson agreed in 2010 to pay its poultry processing workers for all hours that they work in overtime back wages for its employees. The $500,000 in back pay was distributed among 3,000 workers at Tyson's Blountsville, Ala., processing facility on whose behalf the government launched the suit in 2002.
In accordance with the 2010 agreement, Tyson said then it would gradually phase in changes to its timekeeping practices at its poultry and prepared food plants over the next two-and-a-half years. As an interim measure, Tyson also agreed in 2010 to provide eight or 12 minutes of extra pay per shift to some hourly processing line workers.