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Judges expand "farming" to include growing worms--at least where employee rights are at issue

In Barks v. Silver Bait, LLC, the Sixth Circuit was required to decide whether the defendant was required to pay its workers overtime pay.  Silver Bait raises worms for fishing bait.  It argued that it is engaged in "agriculture" and therefore exempt from overtime rules.  The Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that worms aren't "traditional farm animals" but nevertheless found "little to distinguish Silver Bait from a traditional farm." 

In an era when employee rights are in retreat and employment regulations are regularly interpreted as employer corporations prefer, it is no surprise that the Court granted an expansive interpretation of the farming exemption, thereby expanding the number of employers who are not required to comply with the public policy favoring overtime pay.  There was a time when exemptions from public policy standards were strictly limited.

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