Union employees of a poultry processing company are not entitled to compensation under federal law for time spent putting on and taking off protective clothing, according to a recent federal appeals court ruling.
This topic continues to develop in court rulings around the country. For example, a contrary ruling on this issue came out earlier from another federal appeals court.
In the most recent case, the employer compensated workers from the time chickens to be processed reached the production line. Employees were paid based on when the first and last chickens reached the line.
The workers were required to wear various articles of protective clothing, which they had to put on before working on the production line. They had to remain after the production line time ended to take off the protective gear.
The court said the federal Fair Labor Standards Act did not include “hours worked” for time spent changing clothing at the beginning and end of each workday, when this time was excluded from measured working time under the collective bargaining agreement. (The CBA was the main factor in the analysis).
Read the DOL advisory on “hours worked.”
Note that state wage and hour laws might also affect this issue. For example, California employers should look at sections 46 and 47 of the Wage and Hour manual.