STORM LAKE, Iowa | Tyson Foods has settled a 10-year-old class-action lawsuit in which workers at the company's Storm Lake pork plant were awarded $5.8 million in a case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the settlement, Tyson and the workers agreed to a process in which a third-party administrator will disburse the payments to the more than 3,900 current and former workers included in the suit.
The agreement means an end is in sight to a case that began in 2007, when Peg Bouaphakeo and other Tyson Storm Lake employees sued to collect back pay for the time they spent putting on and taking off protective work clothes and equipment before and after their work shifts.
"We're pleased this matter is nearing completion and has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties involved," Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said in an emailed statement Monday.
Mickelson said the average payout to each worker would be $1,700, and it's not yet known when payments will be distributed.
In 2011, a federal jury in Sioux City awarded the workers more than $5.8 million in overtime and damages. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision in 2014.
Tyson appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging the means by which the class-action was granted and whether statistics should have been allowed to determine damages for all employees. The Supreme Court in March 2016 voted 6-2 to reject new limits Tyson asked to have imposed on the ability of workers to band together to challenge pay and workplace issues.
After the Supreme Court ruling, Tyson lawyers sought a new trial to address liability and damages issues and ensure that workers included in the class-action were entitled to a share of the verdict. U.S. District Judge John Jarvey denied the request, saying the distribution formula ensured workers not entitled to damages would not receive a portion of the jury award and that because Tyson did not keep records on the amount of time workers spent donning and doffing the protective gear, the company invited the problem of how damages were determined by its failure to keep complete records, as required by law.