U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Class Action Judgment

     The Supreme Court of the United States ruled 6-2 recently to reject Tyson Foods challenge of a class action award for certain of its employees.  The lower court had entered judgment of nearly $5.8 million for the class action lawsuit that arose because of alleged underpayment of wages.  Over 3,000 workers sued Tyson to be compensated with overtime pay for time that they had spent putting on and removing protective clothing before using sharp knives used for their job.  Tyson did not log these employees hours, so plaintiffs’ attorneys instead used statistics experts to estimate the amount of overtime wages that Tyson owed to the plaintiffs by analyzing video footage of the employees putting on and removing the protective gear.  Tyson Foods argued that the class should not have been allowed because it relied on representative evidence and statistics that assumed all class members were identical to the average in order to calculate liability and damages.  The Supreme Court rejected Tyson’s argument.  The Court explained: “[i]n many cases, a representative sample is ‘the only practicable means to collect and present relevant data’ establishing a defendant’s liability.”  See Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo, No. 14-1146, 2016 U.S. LEXIS 2134 (Mar. 22, 2016).

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