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California Donning and Doffing
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By Heidi Turner
California employees have filed lawsuits alleging they are not properly paid for time spent donning and doffing safety gear, special uniforms, or other clothing required for their jobs. In addition to putting on and taking off work gear, such wage and hour lawsuits may also encompass allegations involving forced security checks, lengthy log-in sessions, or other unpaid work activities. As a result, employees say they have lost out on wages and overtime pay. Although the per-shift amount of money lost to unpaid donning and doffing time may seem small, over the course of a year it can add up to a significant amount, especially if it counts as overtime.
California donning and doffing refers to procedures in which employees are required to wear specialty gear—including uniforms, safety gear, or other tools and equipment—or undertake other work-related activities before they are allowed to begin their official work duties. In the case of specialty clothing, gear can take up to 20 minutes to put on and take off, and employers sometimes require employees to put on and take off the gear before and after work and at the start and end of meal breaks.
California Donning and Doffing
People who work with computers might be required to undergo lengthy log-in and log-out procedures at the start and end of every shift and during breaks, but they may not be paid for that time. Employees might also be required to take part in unpaid team meetings or spend long hours waiting for security checks before they can leave a worksite.
The Supreme Court has ruled that employees should be paid for time employees spend involved in certain activities, if those activities are essential to the work being done. The courts also consider whether the employer or the employee benefits from the required safety gear. Although employees benefit from safety gear by being protected from job-related hazards, employers also benefit by paying less in employee sick time in the event employees are injured on the job.
There may also be a question of how much control the employee has in the circumstances surrounding donning and doffing. If employees are required to leave the safety gear at work, and are therefore unable to fully prepare for work while at home, they may be eligible for compensation.
In 2012, the Hilton Los Angeles Airport Hotel agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle a wage and hour class action lawsuit. Part of the lawsuit alleged employees were not paid for time spent putting on and taking off uniforms that they were required to leave at the hotel. Included in the lawsuit were allegations that employees were also not given proper breaks.
California Donning and Doffing Lawsuits
Donning and doffing wage and hour lawsuits allege that employees should be compensated for time spent involved in certain work activities and that compensation should either come in the form of having that time included in the regular workday or as overtime pay outside of the regular shift.
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