Publications

Employees Must Be Compensated For “Donning & Doffing” Specialized Gear

March 31, 2006

The U.S. Supreme Court recently held that the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) requires employers to pay employees for time spent walking from changing areas to their workstations after putting on specialized protective gear required for the job, as well as for time spent walking from their workstations to the place where the gear is removed.

In the case in question, the employees worked in a meat processing plant and wore specialized protective gear including leggings, aprons, and boots. Pay was based on time spent cutting and bagging meat and began with the first piece of meat cut and ended with the last piece cut. The employer also compensated employees with four minutes of time to change clothes.

The Court determined that, since the employee’s principal activities included “donning” (putting on) and “doffing” (taking off) required specialized gear to cut and bag the meat, the employee’s workday began and ended with the donning and doffing of that gear. Accordingly, the Court held that activities which occurred after putting on that gear, such as walking to a workstation, were compensable as part of a continuous workday and continued until that gear was removed.

In a companion case, which was part of the same decision, the Court also addressed whether employers are required to compensate employees for the time spent waiting to put on, or take off, required gear. The companion case concerned employees working in a poultry processing plant. The Court concluded that time spent waiting before putting on the required gear was not compensable because it was too far removed from the employee’s “principal activity.” Contrastingly, the Court concluded that time spent waiting before taking off the gear was part of the “principal activity” and was, therefore, compensable under the FLSA.

There are several important effects of this decision on employers. If you have any employees who spend time changing clothes on your premises, you should evaluate whether that changing time is integral and indispensable to their work. If it is, you may have to compensate employees for that changing time, as well as for time walking to and from their workstations. To minimize your potential exposure, you should place essential clothing and changing areas in close proximity to employee workstations. You should also focus on strategies that minimize waiting times before any clothing is put on or taken off to limit the amount of time employees could claim they did not receive compensation.

IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez, U.S. Supreme Court, 2005.

Firm Highlights

Publication

U.S. Supreme Court Settles Issue of Title VII Protections for LGBTQ+ Employees

Headshot of Stephanie Rojo
Publication

ICHRAs

Individual Coverage HRA. What is it? What are the benefits and drawbacks? What companies are a good fit for ICHRAs versus group health plans? Kevin talks with Matt Hollister, President and CEO of Business...

Publication

The Importance of Strategic Transitions

Transitions versus change, what’s the destination and why is this important for a business?  Kevin talks with Gwen Gierke from Gierke Jungbauer on how they help to manage transitions. Transition happens in three stages: the ending, the neutral zone, and...

Publication

The 2020 HR Recap

We’ve made it to the recap episode! The good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between. Join Kevin and Elaine (Lainey) Luthens as they discuss it all including FFCRA legislation, OSHA, what they...

Publication

The COVID-19 Vaccine Part 1

News Item

Five Austin Partners Voted As "Top Austin Attorneys 2020"

TopAustinAttorneys
Experience

Thompson Coe Saves Client $100Ks in Damages After 3-Day Trial

Publication

The Tale of OCS and the Coronavirus

How has Opportunity Community Services survived during this pandemic and Phase 1? Rose Kukwa of Opportunity Community Services and Dennis Van Norman with Van Norman & Associates share their experience.  Rose and her team...

Publication

Supreme Court Reaffirms and Clarifies Ministerial Exception to Employment Discrimination Laws Under First Amendment’s Religion Clause

Experience

COVID-19 Response Team - Resources and Updates