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Missing Oxford comma costs Maine dairy $5 million

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A Maine labor law probably should have been proofread more closely after a group of dairy delivery drivers recently settled for $5 million in an overtime lawsuit all based upon a missing Oxford comma.

The lawsuit, filed in 2014, alleged that drivers for Oakhurst Dairy were eligible for overtime pay that they never received because of the way a Maine labor law was worded. The law said the following tasks were exempt from overtime pay: the canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of agricultural produce; meat and fish products; and perishable foods.

The drivers contended that without the Oxford comma, the line “packing for shipment or distribution,” reads as a single act, and since they didn’t actually do any packing, they shouldn’t have been exempt from overtime pay.
 
Oakhurst Dairy, which was sold in 2014 to a farmers cooperative, had argued that the wording of a state law meant the drivers weren’t eligible for overtime pay.

The Maine legislature has since edited the law with semicolons.

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