Many large businesses would like to eliminate class action lawsuits altogether. They know that with those types of class action cases prohibited, they would be rendered virtually immune from suit on a huge variety of topics.
Since they would be unlikely to be successful in legislatures, they have attempted to use the courts to restrict this litigation. In recent years, business interests have won victories in the U.S. Supreme Court that have limited aspects of this form of litigation.
This week, the Court announced it would hear arguments in a case involving Tyson Foods, which was sued by workers concerning pay for time needed to put on and take off protective equipment and clothing in a pork processing plant.
Tyson lost in the lower court and are appealing the method of calculation used by that court to calculate the damages in the case. They argue that the use of statistical samples to calculate liability and damages for the average worker is incorrect.
The workers argue that this method of analysis is necessary because the company failed to accurately record this time. Ironically, the company is attempting to bootstrap this failure into a shield from any liability, apparently requiring individual employees to sue for their individual damages.
They know that the damages for the low-pay processing jobs, where there is substantial turnover due to injuries and the grueling nature of the work, individual damages are unlikely to be substantial enough to cover attorney’s fees.
This would ensure they could continue to steal wages from their employees with impunity.
The arguments in the case will be heard after the Court returns for their October.
Source: wsj.com, “Supreme Court to Hear Case Offering Opportunity to Limit Class-Action Suits,” Brent Kendall, June 8, 2015