Under the FLSA, for training time to not be counted as working hours, there are specific conditions that must be met.  If all four of these conditions are not met, then the time is compensable.  These factors are: 1) no work can be done; 2) the participation must be truly voluntary; 3) the training must not be job-related; and 4) the training must be outside of regular working hours.  The toughest factor for an employer to meet (usually) is the voluntariness aspect.  If there is any element of compulsion, the time must be counted.  A recent case illustrates the parameters of this regulatory test.  The case is entitled Hood v. Ford Motor Co. and was filed in federal court in the Northern District of Ohio.

These employees, titled process coaches, were allegedly required to attend pre-shift and post-shift meetings, while they had not yet punched in.  They charge that this violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and are entitled to overtime.  The name plaintiff worked for seven years as a salaried non-exempt process worker.  He and others worked eight-hour shifts but spent thirty minutes before he clocked in learning about events and incidents of the previous shift.  If that briefing process took less than the half-hour, they were to start working on the production floor.

At shift end, the plaintiff charges that he and other employees were required to attend yet another half-hour meeting, where their tasks involved discussing problems that had arisen and recommending changes to alleviate those problems.  There was no time clock; the workers entered their time on timecards.  However, they allege they were not permitted to enter the time for these training/ briefing sessions, and thus were not paid for this time.

The plaintiff could not specify the amount of damages he claims is due because the Company is in possession of the timecards.  He also suggests the Company may have gotten rid of these cards.  He seeks a collective class of current/former process coaches who worked more than  forty (40) hours of in any week over the prior three years.

The Takeaway

If the evidence shows the workers are correct in their claim, there is no defense. Overtly compelling the workers to report early and stay late to educate other employees and themselves be briefed shows there was no benefit or convenience for the workers. This was for the benefit of the Company and directly ordered by the Company.

Sounds like working time…