The government is going after employers that don't pay workers for time spent putting on and taking off required work clothes and protective gear.
In one of the largest settlements ever with the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division, Perdue Farms Inc. will pay about $10 million total to nearly 25,000 current and former employees. The company also agreed to change its pay practices.
The agreement highlights a common industry practice of not paying workers for time spent donning, doffing and sanitizing their work clothes and equipment. This prep time added up to eight minutes a day and about $500 per worker per year in Perdue's case. The settlement makes Perdue the first company in the poultry industry to pay for time spent on these chores under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
On the same day it announced that settlement, the Labor Department filed a lawsuit against Tyson Foods Inc. seeking similar changes in pay practices and recovery of back wages. Attorneys warn that this industry crackdown may be the tip of the iceberg.
Bottom line: Other industries that don't recognize donning and doffing as paid work time are now on notice.