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The Supreme Court’s Tyson Foods Ruling and Employee Class Actions

The US Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Tyson Foods employees can use representative evidence to establish liability and damages for class certification purposes. The opinion gives the plaintiffs’ class action bar a second victory in the Court’s current term, albeit a far narrower one than many commentators had feared. 

Takeaways include the following (discussed in detail in our post): 

  • The Court showed little to no inclination to categorically prohibit the use of statistical sampling in class actions. Rather, the test is whether the statistical approach would be admissible under the Federal Rules of Evidence. 
  • Employers need to place far greater emphasis on challenging the evidentiary value of statistical or other representative evidence offered by plaintiffs to support class certification. 
  • Employers may want to apply additional resources towards timekeeping in order to limit or even avoid liability and damages on wage and hour issues that are close to the line. 
  • The question of whether a class may include uninjured class members was referred back to the district court. If the jury award as currently constituted remains in place, we expect this controversial issue to make its way back to the Supreme Court. 

For details and a full analysis of the Tyson Foods decision, please see our post in the Employment Matters blog. 

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Authors

Michael S. Arnold

Member / Chair, Employment, Labor & Benefits Practice

Michael S. Arnold is an employment attorney at Mintz. He counsels clients on HR issues, defends management and senior executives, and guides companies through employment issues related to transactions. Michael is Chair of Mintz's Employment Litigation & Arbitration Practice.

Kevin M. McGinty

Member / Co-chair, Class Action Practice

Kevin is a member of the firm's Health Care Enforcement Defense Group and has significant experience representing health care–related entities in a variety of litigation matters, including contract, regulatory, False Claims Act and class action lawsuits. Kevin's health care industry clients have included pharmacies, PBMs, hospitals, clinical laboratories, diagnostic imaging providers, pharmaceutical companies and managed care organizations.

David Barmak

Member / Chair Emeritus, ELB Practice

David Barmak is an experienced trial lawyer at Mintz who focuses his practice on employment law and HR issues. He litigates cases in federal and state courts and arbitrations across the country. David counsels clients on compliance and employee relations issues and risk reduction options.