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Supremes to hear U.S. Steel ‘changing clothes’ case

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel. Workers at the company’s Gary, Ind., plant claim they should be compensated for the time it takes them to change clothes for work at the work site.

The plant’s current union contract does not require U.S. Steel to pay workers for this time, but that hasn’t stopped the workers from claiming they are entitled to compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

U.S. Steel sought to have the case dismissed and a federal judge agreed. The workers unsuccessfully appealed to the 8th Circuit. Now it’s on to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to hear the case in the fall.

In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez that employees must be paid for “doffing and donning” clothing and protective gear if doing so is “an integral and indispensable” part of the job.

The workers in the U.S. Steel case only don minimal safety equipment—generally just safety glasses, hard hats and earplugs. The 8th Cir­­cuit’s opinion noted that putting on these items takes “a matter of seconds and thus [is] not compensable.”

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