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Because we’re fans of overtime pay, are firm believers of the Oxford comma, and are quite nerdy, we’re picking this story up and sharing with you, in the hopes that it also makes your day, the way it did ours.

In Maine in the States, a group of deliver drivers for milk and cream company Oakhurst Dairy just won their lawsuit on overtime pay, simply because the law missed… an oxford comma.

“According to state law, the following types of activities are among those that don’t qualify for overtime pay,” begins Thu-Huong Ha on Quartz.

The article goes on: “The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:
(1) Agricultural produce;
(2) Meat and fish produce;
(3) Perishable foods.”

Notice the Oxford comma was absent between “shipment” and “or” above?

But what might have been a small thing actually won for the drivers the case—at least in the appellate court. The first court to hear the case ruled in favor of the company but the appellate court thought otherwise.

“Without the comma, wrote US appeals judge David J. Barronn, the law is ambiguous as to whether distribution is a separate activity, or whether the whole last clause —“packing for shipment or distribution”—is one activity, meaning only the people who pack the dairy products are exempt. The drivers do distribute but do not pack the perishable food,” the Quartz article continues.

Apparently, Maine has a style guide for legislation, which the milk and cream company argued instructs law-writers not to use the Oxford comma, but the appeals court said clarity is the utmost importance.

Which is totally why we’re rooting for the Oxford. We’re just happy something as serious as a court—a court!—believes so, too.


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