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Tyson Foods reaches deal on workers' back wages.

The U.S. Department of Labor and Tyson Foods Inc. filed a joint motion in federal court last week to resolve a May 2002 lawsuit seeking back wages at its Blountsville, Ala., plant, as well as prospective injunctive relief at the company's poultry-processing facilities.

According to the settlement, Tyson Foods will modify timekeeping practices at its poultry plants, and certain prepared foods plants, during the next two and a half years. By December 2012, the company will arrange for employees to clock in before putting on clothing necessary to do their jobs and clock out after removing said items.

The Labor Department argued that Tyson Foods was in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay overtime to workers for putting on and taking off sanitary and protective clothing before and after production shifts.

"We value our employees and like other business across the country, have strived to comply with federal wage and hour laws that are not precise in their description of what activities are compensable," Ken Kimbro, senior vice president for human resources at Tyson Foods, said in a prepared statement. "We've decided to resolve this case and modify our pay practices for certain jobs in order to avoid the continued expense and disruption of further litigation."

Changes in pay practices are expected to affect between 33 and 47 Tyson plant locations across the country and as many as 38,000 employees. Tyson will pay $500,000 to resolve all monetary and injunctive relief issues in the case, including all claims for back pay. The DOL will distribute the payments to an estimated 3,000 current and former Blountsville workers.

If approved by the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Alabama, the agreement between Tyson Foods and the Labor Department will take effect June 8.
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Title Annotation:Inside Business
Author:Shackelford, Scott
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Jun 7, 2010
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