Locked out American Crystal Sugar workers are eligible for unemployment benefits, says the North Dakota Supreme Court.
When American Crystal locked out 1,300 union employees in August 2011, Minnesota workers qualified for benefits, but workers at North Dakota factories were denied.
North Dakota law says workers involved in a work stoppage cannot get unemployment benefits. About 400 workers at two North Dakota factories were denied benefits.
Union employees challenged the ruling. The North Dakota State Supreme Court ruled the law applied to workers on strike, and not to workers who are locked out by management.
The ruling means workers should soon get checks from the state, said Dan Phillips, attorney for the workers
"In this case, we're talking hundreds of claimants so time, of course, is going to take a little longer for Job Service," Phillips said. "But I would hope not too long. These people have been out of work and without benefits for well over a year."
The state has two weeks to petition for a rehearing of the case.