Fort Worth-based Alcon Laboratories has agreed to pay $199,443 in back wages to 342 assemblers, material handlers and production technicians at its Houston facility.
Alcon makes pharmaceutical eye care products such as contact lens cleaning fluid in a sterile environment. The violations stem from the company’s failure to pay employees for time spent putting on and taking off protective clothing, sanitizing before shifts and cleaning up at the end of the day.
As a result, the employer’s record of hours worked was incorrect, and employees weren’t paid for all the time they worked. In some cases, employees did not receive overtime pay they had earned.
The company has agreed to pay the back wages and change its procedures in the future. They will move the time clocks near the employee’s lockers so they can clock in and out at the proper times.
Note: A landmark 2005 U.S. Supreme Court case—IBP v. Alvarez—decided that time employees spend putting on and removing protective clothing, when it is required for the job, is payable. Make sure time clocks are located near employee dressing areas. Otherwise, you could wind up paying employees just to walk between the front door and the locker room.