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July 19, 2002
Lawsuit Over Pay at Tyson Dismissed
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on Foods employees accusing the company of attempting to depress wages at the Shelbyville, Tenn., plant found their lawsuit dismissed, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. U.S. District Judge R. Allan Edgar dismissed the lawsuit on Tuesday based on a motion filed by Tyson's lawyers that the plaintiffs did not state a claim for a cause of action in their complaint.

The plaintiffs accused Tyson of holding employee wages down by employing a workforce largely comprised of known illegal aliens. The lawsuit requested class-action status and accused the food processing company of racketeering and conducting an "illegal hiring scheme."

To meet the provisions of the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act, the judge ruled that the plaintiffs must prove that they suffered wage losses because the company hired illegal workers.

"Plaintiffs have made only a conclusory allegation that they have been damaged and have not backed that allegation up with any assertion as to how that damage has occurred," Judge Edgar wrote. "Additionally, they have not advanced any rationale for connecting the hiring of illegal aliens to wage depression."

"We are extremely gratified by the court's decision in this matter," Ken Kimbro, senior vice president of human resources for Tyson Foods, said in a statement. "Our company works hard to hire responsibly, to ensure our team members are legally documented and are fairly compensated."

One of the attorneys for the plaintiffs declined to comment to the Times Free Press, but stated that he is certain that there will be an appeal.

The lawsuit came after Tyson Foods and half a dozen of its managers were indicted by the federal government on immigration violations. The government's indictment involves 15 plants in nine states. One of the managers named in the suit apparently committed suicide, according to the Times Free Press. The remaining defendents are set to stand trial beginning in February of 2003.

Tyson Foods is the world's largest processor and marketer of beef, chicken and pork. The company employs 120,000 people and has facilities and offices in 30 states and 22 countries.

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