Bouaphakeo, et al. v. Tyson Foods, Inc., No. 12-3753 (8th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs, current or former "gang-time" employees at Tyson, filed a class action suit against Tyson for not paying wages due under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq., and the Iowa Wage Payment Collection Law, Iowa Code 91A.1 et seq. Plaintiffs claimed that Tyson's K-code time was insufficient to cover compensable pre- and post-production line activities. A jury returned a verdict for the class and Tyson appealed. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the class; the court rejected Tyson's contention that the class should be decertified because evidence at trial showed that some class members did not work overtime and would receive no FLSA damages even if Tyson under-compensated their donning, doffing, and walking; the court concluded that Tyson exaggerated the authority for its contention; sufficient evidence existed to support a "reasonable inference" of classwide liability; and plaintiffs showed uncompensated overtime work by applying average donning, doffing, and walking times to employee timesheets. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.
Court Description: Civil case - Fair Labor Standards Act. In action alleging Tyson violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by giving the employees insufficient paid time to cover compensable pre-and post-production line activities ("donning and doffing"), the district court did not err in certifying the FLSA collective action under Rule 23; sufficient evidence was produced to support a "reasonable inference" of classwide liability where plaintiffs used individual time sheets, along with average time calculated from a sample of 744 observations of employees donning, doffing and walking to prove their claims; evidence was sufficient to account for any uncompensated work. Judge Beam, dissenting.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on May 20, 2016.