In a landmark “donning and doffing” case, The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld a lower court’s $5.8 million judgement against Tyson Food’s Iowa meat processing plant. At the heart of the case was compensation for the time workers spent putting on (donning) and taking off (doffing) the protective gear necessary for the work of slaughtering animals and preparing meat. The case addressed which work activities are compensable and how much employees are entitled to be paid for those activities.
Tyson’s original company policy was to add a standard amount to every employee’s paycheck to account for donning and doffing. Employees argued that the amount did not adequately reflect the time spent putting on and removing uniforms and safety gear. Tyson appealed the ruling, arguing that the case should never have been considered a class–action one, because time spent preparing to work varies among employees. The Supreme Court denied this appeal, upholding the status as a class-action case which involved more than 3,300 employees.
Up for debate in many “donning and doffing” cases is whether or not the clothing and equipment in question is directly related to the employee’s primary job function. Generally, when the addition of specific clothing or safety gear is necessary for the job, the employee can be compensated for putting on and removing the items. When changing clothes is more a matter of personal choice or convenience, the employee will not be paid for time spent doing so.
Donning and doffing cases have occurred in meat processing, agricultural, manufacturing, construction, and law enforcement workplaces. Employers can prevent such litigation by carefully considering the time employees spent preparing to perform a job and compensating them accordingly.
Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates P.C Fight to Uphold Donning and Doffing Laws
Employers that do not compensate their employees fairly for hours worked violate the Fair Labors Standards Act (FLSA.) If you feel that your rights have been violated on the job or you have been denied wages, Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates P.C will advocate for you. Our attorneys have more than 40 years of experience in employment law. Call our Center City Philadelphia offices today at 215-569-1999 or contact us online to schedule a consultation about your case. We work with clients throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.