The much-disputed Oxford comma has helped a group of dairy drivers in a dispute with a company about overtime pay.

Drivers in Maine sued their employer, Oakhurst Dairy, for four years’ worth of overtime pay they claimed they were owed.

US State law says companies must pay time-and-a-half for any hours worked above a 40-hour weekly threshold, but the statute listing jobs exempt from the rule was missing a key punctuation mark.

The overtime law excludes workers engaged in “the canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of” perishable goods.

The case hinged on whether the last item in the list was intended to be read as one activity, or two separate ones.

‘For want of a comma, we have this case,’ the judge wrote.

 

Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.