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Brief Filed in 11th Circuit Court of Appeals for Chicken Processing Workers

On June 25, 2007, the Public Justice Center, as part of Plaintiffs’ counsel team, co-authored a brief filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Fox v. Tyson Foods, Inc.

The underlying case is a challenge to the practice at Tyson Food plants to pay workers on its chicken processing lines only for time spent on the line and not for time “donning and doffing” and cleaning equipment that is required for sanitary and safety reasons. As a result, Tyson workers are underpaid in violation of the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Plaintiffs are appealing the decisions by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama to deny plaintiffs’ application for FLSA class certification and to deny the intervention of applicants. The lower court ignored substantial evidence that there was a company-wide policy of denying compensation for time spent donning and doffing. The trial court also ignored well-established law that plaintiffs’ showings had been more than sufficient. The appeal further challenges the court’s error in denying intervention where applicants would lose their rights to protect their wage claims if not permitted to intervene after the court denied class certification.

The brief was a collaboration of PJC Legal Director Debra Gardner, PJC’s Murnaghan Appellate Fellow Janet Hostetler, Robert Wiggins, Jr.., Robert Childs, Jr., and Candis McGowan of Wiggins, Childs, Quinn & Pantazis, and Joe Sellers of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll.

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