Take 5

Court Approves Collective Action in Tyson Foods Wage Dispute

In a recent development, the court has approved a collective action in a wage dispute involving Tyson Foods. The case, Thornton v. Tyson Foods, centers around the company’s response to a Kronos service outage that affected its payroll system.

Tyson Foods had argued that the employees involved in the lawsuit were not similarly situated due to substantial variations in factors such as the number of hours worked during the Kronos outage, the accuracy of work hours recorded in the week prior to the outage, and the accuracy of manual timekeeping undertaken at each facility during the outage.

However, the court found that these differences, which largely relate to the calculation of damages, are not sufficient reasons to deny conditional certification. The court noted that Tyson Foods’ policy to duplicate the December 4 pay period for the December 11 pay period was a uniform, company-wide policy. Similarly, the company’s policies to manually track hours during the remainder of the hack and reconcile pay on a “net” basis were also implemented across all facilities.

The court has now approved a collective definition that includes all current or former non-exempt employees of Tyson Foods who worked in the United States for at least 40 hours in any one workweek during any pay period affected by Tyson’s Kronos service outage, from on or about December 11, 2021, until January 15, 2022.

The case will now proceed as a representative action throughout discovery. If significant individualized questions arise during discovery, Tyson Foods will have an opportunity to move for decertification.

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