A federal judge in Iowa has denied Tyson Foods’ request for a new trial in a class-action dispute with workers seeking back pay that resulted in a $5.8 million verdict against the company. The ruling, by U.S. Chief District Judge John A. Jarvey, should end an almost decade-long lawsuit with a group of pork-processing employees who sued the company for uncompensated time spent putting on and removing safety gear before and after their work shifts.
Provost Umphrey attorney Michael Hamilton served as plaintiff’s counsel alongside attorneys from Wiggins Childs Quinn & Pantazis LLC; Smith & McElwain Law Office; Kenney McCafferty; and Cummins & Cummins, LLP. The case is Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo.
In 2011, a federal jury ruled in favor of the employees with a $5.8 million verdict, which the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld in 2014. Tyson later challenged the verdict to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in March 2016, the court upheld the lower court ruling.
Tyson next sought a new trial to ensure that all workers in the class were properly entitled to the award. In his ruling rejecting Tyson’s request for a new trial, Judge Jarvey said that uninjured workers were not included in the award because a distribution method ensured damages were only given to employees who worked more than 40 hours and had more than $50 in damages. Judge Jarvey concluded the distribution method takes care of any remaining concerns with the case.