An Oxford Comma Makes a Difference

Source: Mashable, Mar 2017

the Oxford comma is the last one in a series, such as in the sentence: “I like to run, skip, and jump.”  Take out that Oxford comma and the sentence reads like this: “I like to run, skip and jump.” Sometimes, the lack of a comma can leave ambiguity in the sentence.

As explained in the circuit judge’s ruling, the state labor guidelines in question are the following, called Exemption F, which lists which work activities do not count for overtime pay:

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

  1. Agricultural produce;
  2. Meat and fish product; and
  3. Perishable foods

If there was an Oxford comma after “packing for shipment” then neither “packing” not “distribution” would be covered by overtime pay. However, without it, “packing for shipment or distribution” count as one activity: packing. Distribution is not covered in the list of overtime exemptions. So they should get paid for it.

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