The usage of Oxford comma is much-disputed. There are a lot of news media and publishing house including renowned news agency Associate Press (AP) who refrain from using it.
However, Oakhurst Dairy, a dairy company in Maine, United States (US) will never forget to put it ever.
Missing of a single Oxford comma, which is also known as serial comma has cost them a lot of money in a dispute with their truck drivers on overtime pay.
The Oxford comma is used before the words “and” or “or” in a list of three or more things.
According to 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.
Without a comma, it looks like the parents in question are, in fact, Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty.
Drivers working for Oakhurst Dairy had moved legally against the company seeking overtime pay for packing food items they transported.
The labour court ruled in their favour and said this: "For want of a comma, we have this case."
The court said the contract referred to packing and distribution as separate tasks as they were not separated by a comma.
This is what state's law says about overtime pay in it:
"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."
The court said as there is no comma after ‘packing for shipment’, packing work done by drivers cannot be exempt from overtime pay.
Specifically, if that [list of exemptions] used a serial comma to mark off the last of the activities that it lists, then the exemption would clearly encompass an activity that the drivers performThe judgement
“We conclude that the exemption’s scope is actually not so clear in this regard. And because, under Maine law, ambiguities in the state’s wage and hour laws must be construed liberally in order to accomplish their remedial purpose, we adopt the drivers’ narrower reading of the exemption,” the judgement added.