Missing Oxford Comma Helps Dairy Drivers Win Labor Dispute

Missing Oxford Comma Helps Dairy Drivers Win Labor Dispute

The story in question was a court decision that hinged on a Maine law that lacked an Oxford comma, but I got busy with other stuff and never read it. The case now can be heard in a lower court.

This comma kerfuffle may have just been a matter of time, because the guidelines ME has for drafting its legislation specifically recommends avoiding the Oxford comma, stating: "don't use a comma between the penultimate and last item in a series". The court agreed: if the state wanted "distribution" to be its own item in the list, they should have used a damn comma.

As Grammarly notes, the sentences "I love my parents, Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty" and "I love my parents, Lady Gaga, and Humpty Dumpty" are a little different.

This could be taken to mean that your parents are Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty.

At stake in the grammar and punctuation of this sentence is much money in overtime pay and back wages.

It's not only the serial comma that's important, of course.

In the court decision, a similar misunderstanding may be what leads to a judgment against Oakhurst Dairy.

By contrast, in violation of the convention, Oakhurst's reading treats one of the two non-gerunds ("distribution") as if it is performing a distinct grammatical function from the other ("shipment"), as the latter functions as an object of a preposition while the former does not. But the drivers argued that "packing for shipment or distribution" is what was intended by the law-and that since they only deliver goods instead of packing them, they were owed money. Since they're only involved in the distribution step, the drivers found a loophole of legalese by which they were indeed entitled to overtime pay. But the company argued they were exempt under the law.

In its 29-page ruling dated March 13, the court sided with the drivers.

The truck drivers reportedly claimed they worked an average of 12 extra hours a week, according to their lawyer David Webbert.

The tiny missing punctuation mark will result in a payout - 75 drivers will get to split an estimated $10 million. The case is likely to return to court before being resolved, says McCrea-but for die-hard proponents of the Oxford comma or the lack thereof, it's unlikely the standoff will ever end. "That comma would have sunk our ship", he was quoted as saying in an interview on Wednesday. So rejoice, grammar nerds, and know that the law is on your side.

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