I see yet another class action lawsuit involving preliminary and postliminary activities, such as, in this case, donning-and-duffing clothing.  A group of workers has sued their employer, a steel fabricating company on that premise.  The employees also charge non-payment for training time outside of regular hours.  The case is entitled Reed et al. v. Swanton Welding & Machining Co. Inc., and was filed in federal court in the Northern District of Ohio.

The workers charge that the Company “rounded down” the time that they reported as working time.  They seek a class of all production employees at three facilities in Ohio and Georgia.  They claim that the clocking system always rounds their hours down to the scheduled hours (e.g. 630AM-430PM).  Thus, they charge, even though they are performing productive work before/after the shift (e.g. safety checks and donning protective gear) they were not paid for that time.  They further claim the Company knows about the extra time because it directs the workers to perform the tasks and it can track how much time it takes.

The workers also allege that the donning-and-duffing “issues” spill over into their thirty-minute lunch period.  They claim that only when a buzzer goes off are they allowed to remove their gear and wait for another one to start putting it on again and then must be at their work-stations a half-hour later.  Thus, they charge that their lunch breaks fall short, always, of the thirty minute lunch period, creating another source of liability. 

Lastly, the plaintiffs claim that their overtime was improperly calculated.  It is black letter law that non-discretionary bonuses must be included when non-exempt employees work overtime.  The employees here claim this was not done and the overtime was computed only on their hourly rates, not their aggregated compensation for the week.

The Takeaway

By now, I would (like to) think that any employer who requires that employees put on and take off protective or special clothing understands that such time is compensable.  This is because the donning/duffing is likely integral to the performance of their primary jobs. Employers must allow employees to clock in and then change their clothing or track the time it takes to don and duff.

And then pay…