A substantial win for workers in the meat processing industry has just been made in the fight for fair wages. A class action lawsuit that was filed in 2019 by employees of Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., a subsidiary poultry company of JBS, has just been settled for $29 million. This significant win will settle claims that this company along with other leading competitors in the poultry industry conspired together to keep these hard working employees’ wages low. Thousands of non-supervisory and maintenance employees at these chicken processing plants throughout the United States stand to benefit from this settlement.
Specifically, the class action lawsuit alleged several industry leading company heads would secretly meet to exchange information regarding employee wages and ultimately scheme to fix their employees’ wages and benefits at artificially depressed levels. Collectively, these industry giants operate approximately 200 chicken processing plants that produce more than 90 percent of the chicken sold in the United States. These alleged tactics are illegal under several labor and trade laws, such as the Sherman Act, and would only benefit the companies of the poultry industry, allowing them to keep labor and operating costs low at the expense of their employees. Removing the option for competitive wages throughout the industry, these workers, who operate in dangerous and grueling conditions, are left no choice but to accept these low wage rates.
The meat processing industry has unfortunately been known to notoriously skirt wage and hour laws in order to keep profits high at the expense of their employees. This is a significant win as it will not only allow for monetary recovery for thousands of our nation’s hardest workers, but the settlement will also require these companies to turn over important documentation and information regarding these schemes. This information could be extremely helpful in curtailing these tactics from other companies in the future. If you work in this industry and have any questions or concerns about your pay structure, do not hesitate to call our firm, Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP, for a free and confidential consultation at (212)300-0375. Knowing your rights is the first step in understanding what you might be able to do in your specific situation. You can also browse our website here to learn more about your rights in the workplace.