Should you be compensated for time spent putting on and taking off protective gear?

January 31, 2014

A recent case heard before the U.S. Supreme Court evaluated when your employer must compensate you for putting on/taking off different required types of work gear.

The questions involves what is called “donning and doffing” (taking on and off clothes and/or protective gear.) In many instances, your employer may be required to pay you for time spent putting on gear specifically required by your job.

Federal Law contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that in certain circumstances you be paid for this time. The failure to adequately compensate you may be considered a violation of the FLSA entitled you to back pay and damages.

If you work in a job that requires you to spend time putting on and taking off protective gear, it is important to know your rights concerning compensation for this time. If you have questions, you should consult with an experienced Atlanta wage and hour attorney right away.

While the case before the Supreme Court focused on unionized employees, non-unionized workers may be entitled to pay for time spent changing in and out of protective gear. Further, whether unionized employees must be paid for this time may be up to their collective bargaining agreement. Additionally even for unionized employees, questions still exist concerning different industries. Thus while the steel workers in this case were not entitled to compensation based on language in their collective bargaining agreement, unionized employees in similar cases such as meat processing-line workers in Nebraska were entitled to $19 million from Tyson Food, which allegedly failed to pay them for time spent donning and doffing protective gear. As stated by one observer:

“The decision makes clear that employees in the meatpacking and food processing industries who must don substantial required safety equipment must be paid for this time.”

If you have questions about any part of your wages, or believe that you have not received all the compensation you are entitled to, please contact the experienced Georgia wage and hour lawyers at The Buckley Law Firm, LLC for an immediate consultation.