The U.S. Supreme Court created abig fuss last year by ruling that time used to put on or remove some work clothes and safety gear outside actual work hours might be compensable time. Many employers changed the way they calculated pay and found themselves with higher labor budgets.
Now it turns out that employers may have been too quick to change the way they pay employees for pre-work
and post-work clothes-changing. For example, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Florida employers, recently dismissed one donning and doffing case.
Recent case: A group of employees at a chicken-processing plant filed a collective action after the Supreme Court’s decision, claiming their employer didn’t begin to pay them until the first chicken started down the conveyor belt. They claimed the Fair Labor Standards Act required payment starting when they put on smocks, gloves and hairnets.
The trial court dismissed the case, and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed. It interpreted the Supreme Court case and U.S. Labor Department opinion letters to require payment for donning and doffing special protective gear, but not the ordinary clothing these employees changed into. (Anderson, et al., v. Cagle’s, No. 06-10306, 11th Cir., 2007)