For Want Of A Comma–The Oxford Comma Update

Update Oxford CommaNearly a year ago, I wrote a blog post about a case, the crux of which was the lack of an oxford comma. Here is the section of that post quoting the language missing the Oxford comma:

Here is the law’s wording about activities NOT meriting overtime pay:

The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:

(1) Agricultural produce;
(2) Meat and fish products; and
(3) Perishable foods.

Based on this language, is packing for shipment its own activity or is it packing for the distribution of the three things on the list? If an Oxford comma had separated “packing for shipment” and “or,” the meaning would have been much more clear. According to court documents, the drivers arguing for overtime actually distribute perishable food, but they do not pack it. That argument helped win the case.

The Oakhurst Dairy drivers who brought the case had asked for $10 million. Court documents filed last week indicate the case was settled for $5 million. All for the want of a comma . . .

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