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Tyson Would Pay $950 Thousand in Deal to Settle Case Over Wage Violations

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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) Tyson Foods, Inc. would pay $950,000 under the proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit covering roughly 1,200 workers at a Council Bluffs meat processing plant who claimed wage violations, but most of the money would go to their lawyers.

Federal court documents filed Wednesday show Tyson Foods reached the tentative agreement with attorneys representing the workers. Both sides are asking for approval from U.S. District Judge John Jarvey.

The deal would reimburse plaintiffs' lawyers $340,000 for the out-of-pocket costs they incurred during the litigation and award $309,000 in compensation for attorneys' fees. At least three law firms worked for the plaintiffs in the case, including attorneys based in Philadelphia, San Francisco and Omaha.

Current and former hourly production workers at the beef and pork processing plant could claim payments from a $271,000 settlement fund, based on factors such as how long they worked, whether they worked more than 40 hours per week, and the types of jobs they held. The named plaintiff, America Maxwell, would receive $5,000 while the settlement administrator would get $25,000.

The lawsuit claimed Tyson failed to compensate employees for time and overtime they spent putting on, taking off and cleaning their clothes and equipment and sharpening their knives before and after shifts. Tyson denied any violations of state and federal wage laws, and the settlement would not be an admission of wrongdoing.

Jarvey certified the lawsuit as a class-action in July, ruling that employees dating back to April 29, 2006 could be eligible to participate. He is expected to hold a hearing on the settlement proposal to consider any objections before giving final approval.

Both sides agreed not to publicize the proposed settlement and to say only that "the matter has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties" in response to media inquiries.

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