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Murray v. Tyson Foods

February 9, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael M. Mihm United States District Judge


Before the Court is Defendant Tyson Foods' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 and Local Rule 7.1(D). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion for Summary Judgment [#33] is GRANTED.


Plaintiffs filed a Three-Count Original Class Action Complaint against Tyson alleging that they had not been paid all wages purportedly due to them under the Illinois Minimum Wage Law ("IMWL"), the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act ("IWPCA"), and federal law pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"). Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that the class members were not compensated for all of their time spent working on behalf of Tyson at the pork processing facility in Joslin, Illinois, in violation of Illinois statutes. The named Plaintiffs also brought individual actions under Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), alleging that because Tyson failed to pay employees the required amount of overtime at the statutory rate, Tyson must reimburse the employees not only for the unpaid overtime wages, but also for liquidated damages in an amount equal to the amount of unpaid overtime wages.

On June 3, 2008, Tyson moved to dismiss a portion of the Complaint and on October 31, 2008, this Court entered its Order pertaining to that motion. In its motion, Tyson argued, in part, that Count II should be dismissed because Plaintiffs did not allege that they were due wages pursuant to a contract or agreement. In addition, Tyson made reference to a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") and contended that, under the CBA, Plaintiffs' IWPCA claim and IMWL claim would fail because they would be preempted by § 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185.

In denying Tyson's Motion to Dismiss Count II, the Court concluded that Plaintiffs and Tyson had an employment agreement whereby Tyson agreed to pay employees an hourly rate for work performed on its behalf. The Court noted that because Plaintiffs' Complaint did not make reference to the CBA and because Plaintiffs argued that the CBA was entirely unnecessary to establish or prove its state law claims, the Court could not consider the CBA under the motion to dismiss standards. Despite denying Tyson's Motion to Dismiss Count II, the Court stated that it encouraged Tyson to file a prompt Motion for Summary Judgment if the CBA was applicable to the issues in the action.


The parties do not dispute that this Court has jurisdiction over this action. The Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' federal claim because it is being brought pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. 216(b), and because it raises a federal question pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The Court also has jurisdiction over the Plaintiffs' state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d) because Plaintiffs allege that the aggregate claims of the individual class members exceed the jurisdictional amount and that Plaintiffs are citizens of Illinois while Tyson is a Delaware corporation whose principal place of business is in Springdale, Arkansas.


Summary judgment should be granted when the pleadings and evidence, viewed most favorably to the non-movant, "show there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Cain v. Lane, 857 F.2d 1139,1142 (7th Cir. 1988).


The Supremacy Clause of Article VI of the United States Constitution grants to Congress the power to preempt state law. Kohl's Food Stores, Inc. v. Hyland, 32 F.3d 1075, 1077 (7th Cir. 1994). Congress exercised this power by enacting § 301(a) of the LMRA, 29 U.S.C. § 185(a), which provides:

Suits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce as defined in this chapter, or between any such labor organizations, may be brought in any district court of the United States having jurisdiction of the parties, without respect to the amount in controversy or without regard to the citizenship of the parties.

This section provides federal court jurisdiction over controversies involving CBAs and also authorizes federal courts to fashion a body of federal law for the enforcement of these agreements. Lingle v. Norge Div. of Magic Chef, Inc., 486 U.S. 399, 403 (1988). In order to ensure uniform interpretation of collective bargaining agreements, Section 301 requires that federal rules of law be applied. Id. at 403-04. The remedy under Section 301 is exclusive; no action to ...

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