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Supreme Court Asked to Hear Donning and Doffing Lawsuit

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Washington, DCGiven the confusing nature of labor laws and employee rights, issues such as unpaid wages and off-the-clock work are not as straightforward as they might seem. As a result, the US Supreme Court has reportedly been asked to hear a case involving an unpaid wages claim by employees who have spent time preparing for work.

For the most part, people can agree on what constitutes work. Activities as specified in a job description that are done during regular or overtime hours usually count as work. What is less clear, however, are activities undertaken so an employee can fulfill his or her work duties. This includes activities such as logging on to or off of computer systems, putting on or taking off important safety gear, waiting for a security check before leaving a work site, and other such activities.

So far, lawsuits have resulted in varying results, with some donning and doffing lawsuits being dismissed and others resulting in awards.

This is one of the reasons why three trade organizations have indicated their support of the US Supreme Court hearing a request by ThyssenKrupp Waupaca Inc. to review claims concerning employees being paid for time spent showering and putting on or taking off work clothes.

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employees be paid for activities “required by the nature of the employees’ work.” But that does not make clear when putting on certain clothes or safety gear is compensable time. The three organizations argue that simply providing shower facilities on a site does not mean showering is required by the job for health reasons.

The lawsuit was filed in 2008 by employees who argued that ThyssenKrupp violated the Fair Labor Standards act by not paying overtime for employees who showered and changed at work, according to court documents. Certain employees, according to the lawsuit, were required to wear personal protective equipment and faced disciplinary action if they failed to.

The district court dismissed the lawsuit finding that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration did not have any rules stating that workers in sites such as those owned by ThyssenKrupp had to have showers.

In 2013, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s decision, finding that there was a “factual dispute in this case as to whether these activities significantly reduced workers’ health risks at Waupaca.” The court also found that the lack of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandate regarding providing shower facilities onsite was not enough to dismiss the lawsuit.

ThyssenKrupp has now asked the US Supreme Court to issue a ruling on what activities are considered compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The case is Thyssenkrupp Waupaca Inc. v. DeKeyser et al., case number 14-30 in the U.S. Supreme Court.

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READER COMMENTS

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When I first started there at plant 6 in Etowah waupca did let the workers clock in befor or we got ready for work that was in 02/15/2005 . Then at the end of that year they told everyone to start clocking in as clos to your work station . So I did because I loved my job or we were going to be rote up. Then they started to cut the rates that's mean I had to work harder . Then the for persons was telling everyone to work harder and faster . I started to hear people say that they quit the jobs that they had at the foundry . Well I had profet shearing that I had when they fired me at plant 5 in tell city they held my profet sharing . Then I had to fight to get it back day by day I keep losen on it then after 3 mounts I got it back 1,300 dollars of it what I put in . Now do you people think that was fare?

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