Tyson Foods Found in Violation of Fair Labor Standards Act

Poultry producer Tyson Foods Inc. has been found in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) at its Blountsville, Ala., facility. The jury's verdict in federal court in Birmingham resulted from a lawsuit filed by the Department of Labor against the company (Hilda L. Solis v. Tyson Foods Inc.; Case number 2:02-CV-1174-VEH).

"We are very pleased that the jury in Birmingham has vindicated our position that employers must pay their workers for the time that they are required to work," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "This is a victory for workers, and the result of years of dedicated efforts to protecting the rights of working Americans on the part of attorneys, investigators, and others within the Labor Department."

"The addition of 250 new wage and hour field investigators--a staff increase of more than a third--along with additional new staff in the department's Office of the Solicitor, makes clear our commitment to ensuring compliance with federal labor laws for the benefit of America's working families," she added.

DOL's lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. The federal department alleged that Tyson Foods 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 cover the period from the year 2000 to the present and affect approximately 3,000 current and former workers at the plant.

The initial investigation began in April 2000 as part of the department's Wage and Hour Division's poultry enforcement initiative. The Labor Department filed the district court complaint in May 2002 following the company's failure to comply with the law and to pay back wages. The first jury trial, which began in February 2009, ended in a mistrial. DOL chose to pursue a second trial in August 2009 to secure a ruling that Tyson was failing to compensate its employees lawfully.

For more information, go to www.wagehour.dol.gov.

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