SHOULD A WORKER BE COMPENSATED FOR THE TIME SPENT DRESSING IN SAFETY EQUIPMENT?

On November 10, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo, which involves a group of pork-processing workers in Iowa who claimed the meatpacking giant shorted them on overtime pay.

The employees brought their claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) back in 2007, arguing they should have been compensated for the time it took to put on and take off the safety equipment they were required to wear while they worked. A jury eventually agreed, resulting in a $5.8 million judgment in favor of roughly 3,300 workers.

An employer who requires or permits an employee to work overtime is generally required to pay the employee premium pay for such overtime work. Employees covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) must receive overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek of at least one and one-half times their regular rates of pay. The FLSA does not require overtime pay for work on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, or regular days of rest, unless overtime hours are worked on such days.

An employee must be paid for all of the time considered to be hours worked and all time that is hours worked must be counted when determining overtime hours worked. In 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Skidmore v. Swift that the workweek ordinarily includes “all the time during which an employee is necessarily required to be on the employer’s premises, on duty or at a prescribed work place”.

Additionally, the Portal-to-Portal Act defined a “workday” as the period between “the time on any particular workday at which such employee commences (his or her) principal activity or activities” and “the time on any particular workday at which he ceases such principal activity or activities.” The “workday” may thus be longer than the employee’s scheduled shift, hours, tour of duty, or time on the production line.

What to do if you are uncertain about whether you are unfairly being denied overtime

New York State and New York City laws are much more liberal. It is not always be easy to determine whether you have been a victim of wage theft. If you are unsure as to whether your situation qualifies as unlawful hostile work environment, call Akin Law Group at 866.685.5163 to schedule a free consultation. Our lawyers can use their extensive legal knowledge and courtroom experiences to help you better understand your case.