Victory for the Oxford Comma
I stand proudly with the Oxford comma, as it stands for reason, clarity, and mitigates against incertitude. (Try reading that sentence without the Oxford comma and see where it gets you.)
I am pleased to know that the US Court of Appeals agrees with me, insofar as they ruled that a missing Oxford comma was the deciding factor in the case of Kevin O’Connor v. the Oakhurst Dairy.
But without the comma, wrote US appeals judge David J. Barron, the law is ambiguous as to whether distribution is a separate activity, or whether the whole last clause—”packing for shipment or distribution”—is one activity, meaning only the people who pack the dairy products are exempt. The drivers do distribute, but do not pack, the perishable food . . .
Oakhurst, for its part, had argued that “distribution” was separate in the language of the law, meaning its drivers did not qualify for overtime.
In an impressively geeky retort, the drivers responded that all the other exempted activities were listed as gerunds, words ending with “-ing”: Canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing. The word “distribution,” they argued, was therefore not intended to be one of the items in the list.
Good to know that the truck drivers understand proper grammar and sentence structure. Would that everyone did.