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New York Donning and Doffing Lawsuits
By Heidi Turner
New York donning and doffing lawsuits have been filed alleging workers are not properly paid for the time they spend in activities that are vital to their job but not considered actual job duties. Donning and doffing activities include putting on and taking off safety gear or special uniforms, or collecting tools that must be worn during work. Similarly, wage and hour lawsuits have been filed against companies alleging employees are required to spend unpaid time logging onto or off of computer systems and waiting for security checks before they can leave.
New York donning and doffing refers to situations in which employees are required by their employers to wear special gear—such as safety gear, uniforms, or tools—in order to perform their job. The time spent putting on and taking off this gear can run into overtime if the employees are already fulltime. And it can add up to 20-30 minutes on a shift, depending on how much gear must be put on and taken off.
New York Donning and Doffing
Employees whose jobs involve complex computer systems might have to spend additional time in log-in and log-out procedures before and after shifts and at break times. Meanwhile, some employees may be required to attend team meetings before shifts start, or wait for security checks before they are allowed to leave work after a shift.
The Supreme Court has found that employees must be paid for time they spend involved in activities that are essential to the work being done. But whether an activity is essential—and whether it benefits the employer or employee—is sometimes under dispute. The courts may also take into account how much control the employee has over the circumstances of putting on and taking off protective gear. For example, if employees must leave their work clothes at the worksite, the clothing may be considered indispensable to work activities. If employees are able to dress for work at their home, the gear may not be considered integral.
Recently, the Supreme Court ruled in a lawsuit filed against Tyson Foods that workers should not be penalized because a company failed to keep accurate records of employee time spent putting on and taking off safety gear. The court found, in a 6-to-2 ruling, that employees could rely on statistics to prove how long they spent donning and doffing work gear. A lower court had awarded workers $6 million in unpaid wages but Tyson had appealed the decision.
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