Commas save lives! … or sometimes a lot of money.
Have you already heard about this recent court case that turned on an Oxford comma?
A group of dairy drivers argued that they deserved overtime pay for certain tasks they had completed. The company said they did not. An appeals court sided with the drivers, saying that the guidelines themselves were made too ambiguous by, you guessed it, a lack of an Oxford comma.
This is what the law says about activities that do NOT merit overtime pay. Pay attention to the first sentence:
The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of…
…is packing for shipment its own activity, or does it only apply to the rest of that clause, i.e. the distribution of agricultural produce, etc.?
And there you go. The drivers won on comma ambiguity.