A federal court jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of Tyson Foods today in a Rule 23 class and FLSA collective action, alleging failure to pay overtime under state and federal law. Tyson was represented at trial by Hunton & Williams’ lawyers Michael J. Mueller, Emily Burkhardt Vicente and Evangeline Paschal and local Baird Holm lawyer, Thomas E. Johnson.
Plaintiffs claimed that they were denied overtime compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. s 201, et seq., and the Iowa Wage Payment Collection Act, Iowa Code Chapter 91A, for time spent on donning, doffing and related activities, before and after shift and at unpaid meal and rest breaks. The Court granted summary judgment to Tyson on Plaintiffs’ meal and rest break-related claims before trial. The case then proceeded to a two and a half week representative proof jury trial. After the Plaintiffs rested their case, Tyson moved for judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiffs’ claim that the Company had willfully violated the FLSA and Iowa law, a motion the Court granted from the bench.
After two days of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict for Tyson, finding that Plaintiffs had failed to prove their claims on a class-wide basis under the Portal-to-Portal Act and affirmatively finding that Tyson acted in good faith reliance on an enforcement position of the United States Department of Labor, under FLSA s 259. The jury also found that Plaintiffs failed to prove class-wide damages, awarding $0.00 to Plaintiffs on both their FLSA collective action and Rule 23 class action claims. The case is Guyton v Tyson Foods, Inc., No. 3:07-cv-0088-JAJ, pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa.
This is the second class and collective action jury trial win for Tyson Foods in less than a year on these types of claims. Tyson, represented by Hunton & Williams and Baird Holm, also won a unanimous jury trial verdict in the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska last May on similar claims, alleging failure to pay overtime under the FLSA and Nebraska law for donning, doffing and related activities.