Home Page Hot Legal Issues Unpaid Wages for Required Time
Many Uncompensated for Time Preparing and Finishing Work
Many companies require employees to wear safety gear, carry out employment-related tasks or attend brief meetings off-the-clock. These requirements are the focus of lawsuits, alleging employees should be paid for the time spent donning and doffing special gear for work, as well as time spent in pre- and post-production work activities. For employees who carry out these activities on a daily basis, the extra time can add up to a lot uncompensated work.
Donning and Doffing Lawsuits
In various donning and doffing lawsuits, the courts have found in favor of employees. These include a 2012 US Supreme Court ruling against a poultry processor required the employer to pay employees for time spent putting on and taking off required safety gear. In issuing its decision, the Supreme Court found certain activities should be paid for if they are essential to the work being done.
In the case of safety gear, employees benefit by not being exposed to workplace hazards; however, employers also benefit by paying less for employee sick time. According to plaintiffs, employees should either be given the necessary time to don and doff work gear as part of their workday or they should be compensated for time spent dressing and undressing for work. A donning and doffing lawsuit typically seeks unpaid overtime, as the time spent donning and doffing safety gear or a uniform adds time to the work week in excess of 40 hours.
Hotel and restaurant workers, as well as hospital and healthcare workers, are all usually required as terms of their employment to wear a uniform. As such, donning and doffing lawsuits can be prevalent in those industries as well. A 2008 employment class action lawsuit filed against the Hilton LAX included allegations that hotel workers were not paid for the time it took to put on and take off their uniforms. The Hilton LAX settled the lawsuit for $2.5 million.
Even police officers and firefighters may, unwittingly, be the victims of a donning and doffing lawsuit. A lawsuit on behalf of Los Angeles Police Department officers was found in favor of the plaintiffs because donning and doffing a police uniform--complete with holsters and bullet-proof vests--can add an additional 5 to 15 minutes before and after a police officer's shift.
Remote call centers or virtual call centers may present another work environment in which an employee experiences an egress/regress violation. Many times, employees who work for remote call centers may be required to log into the company's customer care system via a VPN line. The time it takes to log into the system, and log off of it, may not be time that is compensated, even though it can take 10 minutes or more to log into or out of a system, and this must be done at the start and end of every shift and break times.
Call Center Lawsuits
Furthermore, some call centers are accused of automatically clocking their employees out at the end of their shifts, even if the employees are in the middle of a phone call and not allowed to hang up on the customer. In other words, the employee is performing job duties but not being paid for those tasks.
Lawsuits have been filed against various call centers alleging employees are forced to perform job-related tasks off-the-clock.
One lawsuit has been filed against Sykes Enterprises, alleging employees were required to log into several secure servers prior to their shifts and after breaks, but were not able to clock in for their shifts until the set up process was finished, despite laws requiring employees be paid from the start of their first principal activity of the workday. The lawsuit also alleges employees were automatically clocked out at the end of their designated shifts, even if the employee was still taking a call. Employees then allegedly finished up their calls without being paid.
Meanwhile, a lawsuit has been filed against SEI Enterprises alleging employees were not properly compensated for all time worked, including duties related to their job such as logging into and out of various computer systems two to three times per shift. The time spent logging into and out of computer systems allegedly took between eight and ten minutes per session. According to the lawsuit, employees were not allowed to clock in for their shifts until the logging in process was complete.
An unpaid wages lawsuit seeking class action status (case number 3:13-cv-02698-MEM) has been filed against Amazon Inc., alleging employees at the company's facility in Pennsylvania were required to undergo a screening process twice a week at the end of their shift and twice a week before their meal break but were not paid for time spent waiting to undergo that process. According to the lawsuit, the process took anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes each time, not counting for delays such as individual bag inspections. The plaintiff argues that employees have already clocked out when the screening process occurs.
Amazon Unpaid Wages Lawsuit
Some employers, such as theme parks, do not require special safety gear, but do require employees to dress up as characters before setting foot on the theme park grounds. Furthermore, when the employees are in costume and walking to or from the parking lot, they are required to answer questions and help theme park guests, even if they are not on the clock. Because of the size of the park and the location of employee parking lots, it can take 10 or 15 minutes for an employee to walk to or from her car, and even longer if she is stopped to answer questions or pose for photographs.
Egress and Regress Lawsuits
Additionally, some industries may require that an employee use a company car during work. The time the employee takes to retrieve the car at the beginning of the workday, and to return the company car at the end of the workday, may not be time that is compensated. Use of a company car in which getting the car and returning it are not compensated may be a wage and hour violation.
Meanwhile, other employers may require employees to pick up company vehicles, log in to a company system (such as for remote call centers), clean work equipment, or attend brief pre-shift meetings, all off-the-clock. Employees have a right to be paid for all time spent in work-related activities.
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Last updated on Feb-24-14
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