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Don’t Blame the Oxford Comma But Rather Blame Its Omission

February 9, 2018

“Aided By Oxford Comma, Dairy Farmers Reach $5M OT Deal” — so reads the faulty headline for an article linked below you can read on Law360 today, if you subscribe, about the case of the dairy drivers who claimed entitlement to extra pay under Maine’s overtime law.

The headline is wrong, because it was the lack of an Oxford comma in Maine’s statute that let the drivers avoid dismissal of their claim last year, on the theory that the exclusion of employees engaged in “canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment and distribution” did not apply to those merely engaged in distribution. They were not “packing for shipment and distribution.” Surely that was not what the legislators meant to say.

I’ve never understood the irrational prejudice of some against the Oxford comma. Omitting it is unsightly, and using it is proper parallel construction and, most importantly, avoids confusion. Using it will never cause confusion. The Oxford comma is right, and it isn’t optional in my book.

Aided By Oxford Comma, Dairy Drivers Reach $5M OT Deal



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