Late last week, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that Tyson Foods, Inc. agreed to a nationwide injunction that will require the poultry processing company to pay processing workers for all hours that they work. The agreement means that poultry workers at Tyson’s plants will be paid for all the time they spend putting on and taking off protective and sanitary items, a process known as donning and doffing, in addition to all time they spend washing and sanitizing themselves and these work items. Workers will also be paid for all time spent walking and waiting during the work day.
The agreement with Tyson Foods comes in the wake of the Department of Labor’s consent judgment with Pilgrim’s Pride in January 2010. Now that Tyson Foods has followed suit, the nation’s two largest poultry processors are subject to judicially-enforceable requirements that they pay employees for donning and doffing time in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act. The agreement with Tyson Foods will become fully effective at all Tyson’s plants no later than December 1, 2012. The agreement also provides for the payment of overtime back wages.