Court Rules Tyson Foods Violated Labor Laws

Company didn't pay employees at Alabama plant for applying safety gear

Poultry producer Tyson Foods Inc. was found in violation of the Fair Standards Labor Act by for failing to pay employees at an Alabama plant for various activities, including time spent suiting up and removing safety gear, the U.S. Labor Department reported Nov. 5.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama ruled that the company did not keep accurate records and failed to pay production line employees for the time they spend donning and doffing safety and sanitary gear, and performing other related work activities. The violations date back to 2000 and affect approximately 3,000 current and former workers at the plant.

The Labor Department filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama in May 2002 after beginning an investigation two years earlier as part of the department's Wage and Hour Division's poultry enforcement initiative.

The first jury trial, which began in February 2009, ended in a mistrial. The Labor Department chose to pursue a second trial in August 2009 to secure a ruling that Tyson was failing to compensate its employees lawfully.

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