Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Are You Paid by the Minute?

In yet another example of an overreaching federal government, the first case before the Supreme Court this session is a waste of time bickering about an inconsequential amount of time:

WASHINGTON - It may not have been the type of high profile, landmark litigation that makes history, but John Roberts' first case as the 17th chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court involves workers' wages at an Eastern Washington meat processing plant.

Roberts' inaugural case focuses on whether more than 800 workers at the Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. plant in Pasco should be paid for the three minutes it takes to walk to the production line from a locker room where they put on required protective clothing.

A district court judge has awarded more than $3 million to the workers who brought the class-action lawsuit.

At typical trial lawyer rates, that's $1 million for the lawyers and an average of $2500 per worker. But before the trial lawyers get their cut, they should have to show that the workers were working every second of the other 99.4% of the workday. Not only is the amount trivial (no one would have noticed if wages were 0.625% lower to account for a changed policy), but why should the federal government or the courts micromanage employment to this extent?

How about protecting employers from having to pay for snack breaks, coffee breaks, water cooler breaks, bathroom breaks, smoke breaks, staring at the wall breaks, and gossip breaks? Or to get closer to the example at hand, how about a class action lawsuit by employers against employees for even the most minute failure to work at one hundred percent productivity one hundred percent of the time?

1 comment:

JJH said...

Man, I hope my boss never reads this. I believe she would follow your tongue-in-cheek suggestion to the t. ;)