The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided a closely-watched case involving the ability of employees alleging wage and hour violations to bring a class action lawsuit under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  In this case, a large group of employees alleged that they were entitled to be paid for time spent “donning and doffing” personal protective gear.

In allowing the case to go forward, the High Court in Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo, et al., No. 14-1146 (U.S. Mar. 22, 2016), concluded that the “averaging” method used by the employees to establish a claim common to the class as a whole was fair and permissible in light of the employer’s failure to keep complete and accurate records of all time worked by the employees.  As a result, the Court assumed each class member logged the same average time that the plaintiffs’ expert witness claimed they did.

Importantly, the Supreme Court did not create new rules for certifying class actions generally, or those involving disparate wage and hour claims specifically.  Thus, the Tyson ruling can fairly be limited to the particular facts of the case and is not likely to have a major impact on how other class action cases are litigated.

A copy of the Court’s decision is available here.

Members of the Equal Employment Advisory Council (EEAC) can read more here.