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Kendall Jackson Donning and Doffing Class Action



A donning and doffing class action lawsuit has been filed against Kendall-Jackson Vineyard Estates. The unpaid wages lawsuit claims that field workers have not been compensated for time preparing and finishing work, which is a violation of the California Labor Law. The Kendall-Jackson lawsuit involves current field workers and all those employed since June 2015.

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Kendall Jackson Class Action Lawsuit

The Kendall-Jackson class action lawsuit claims that KJ field workers have to start work off-the-clock at the supply house and finish work at the supply house. Here, workers put on gear before heading out to Kendall Jackson ranches, specifically in Geyersville CA and Cloverdale CA. The class action argues that this unpaid time donning and doffing means unpaid wages and maybe overtime are owed to the field workers.

Donning and doffing refers to the time spent putting on and taking off uniforms or required work safety gear to properly perform job duties. Often, work gear can take 10 minutes or more to put on and take off for each shift, plus time spent dressing and undressing for breaks. Although many companies, such as Kendall-Jackson and other California wineries require employees to wear boots and gloves and other personal protective equipment, employers frequently do not pay for that time.

Many companies require employees to wear safety gear. 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.

Interestingly, Kendell Jackson President Rick Tigner in 2012 went "undercover"for the CBS show Undercover Boss and said the following: " I do facility visits all the time now, to all of the different production facilities. And a big program we have is wellnessÂ…It' cold and wet out in the fields."

California Bill 263

Individuals employed in agriculture and outdoor work such as landscaping and farming are now legally entitled to sufficient rest breaks (minimum five minutes in the shade, on an "as needed"basis) when temperatures exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit. This new law applies to everyone, including illegal immigrants, who now have a number of rights and protections under Bill 263.

If an employee does not receive the proper meal and rest periods, including the new "recovery periods"or "cool down period afforded an employee to prevent heat illness,"the employer must pay to the employee one hour of pay as a penalty. Employers are advised to review California OSHA recommendations to preventing heat illness.

Legislation to give California farm-workers extra overtime pay in 2019 was rejected in June 2016 by the State Assembly. Congress excluded farm-workers from wage protections extended to other industries in passing the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. California subsequently mandated that farm laborers receive overtime pay if they work more than 10 hours in a day or more than 60 hours in a week.

Unpaid Wages attorney Kitty Szeto, with the Rex Parris Law Firm, says the Kendall-Jackson field workers often work more than 10 hours per day, and are therefore owed overtime pay for donning and doffing. "The field workers meal breaks have been shorted and they are not getting a second meal break, which they must get after 10 hours,"says Szeto. "As well, we are charging Kendall-Jackson with pay stub violations: there is no punch system in place. Instead supervisors are recording their hours."

Keep Time Records

In Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo, the United States Supreme Court upheld class certification in a donning and doffing case. Because Tyson did not keep records of time employees spent donning and doffing, employees used expert testimony to establish the average time spent putting on and taking off protective gear. Tyson argued that the variation in time for donning and doffing among individuals made the claims too speculative for class wide recovery. The district court and the jury disagreed and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.

Recent Donning and Doffing Settlements

Six hourly meat processing employees of Tyson Prepared Foods Inc. filed an overtime class action claiming they are entitled to compensation for time they spend at the plant donning and doffing sanitary and protective equipment and clothing as required by Tyson. They also spent time walking to and from workstations after donning and before doffing these items. A jury awarded $2.9 million to the employees.

An Arkansas Supreme Court ruled in May 2016 that a Gerber food manufacturing company violated Arkansas state law by not paying production workers for time they spent putting on and taking off required protective gear. The company is liable for approximately $3 million in unpaid overtime and interest to workers at its Arkansas plant. Gerber Prods. Co. v. Hewitt, et al., 2016 Ark. 222

A class-action suit was filed against Dole in December 2012, claiming that it didn't pay workers time for donning and doffing their sanitary suits - including gloves and hairnets, while they packed fresh greens into ready-to-eat packages. The suit alleges that the time Dole' employees are required to work without pay is "substantial."Furthermore, Dole routinely violated the California labor law regarding lunch and rest periods because workers need to don and doff their gear again, and that time should not have been counted as break time. The complaint states that "Dole knew or should have known that its policies and practices were expressly contrary to California law and unfair."

The Cost of Donning and Doffing

Employers should consider what activities are required by their field workers before they clock in and out every day. Even 10 minutes donning and 10 minutes doffing each day can result in severe financial costs in unpaid California wages, including the cost of litigation.

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