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Workers seek back pay for “off-the-clock” work duties

Some occupations require specific clothing or costumes that workers leave at the business. In today’s technological age, logging into business systems may be a necessity to perform the job. For workers who require specific safety gear to perform their jobs, changing into the work clothes may be compensable as far as federal wage and hour laws go.

The issue of “donning and doffing” is not new, but issues continue to arise in this area of employment law under the Fair Labor Standards Act. A similar concept recently arose in the area of signing on through a complex process of firewalls that call-center nurses say they were not properly paid as a part of their jobs.

Lengthy Sign-In And Sign-Out Processes At Center Of Lawsuit

The nurses say that they were not paid for the cumbersome process of signing in and signing off from the network at the start of the day, when going on break and after finishing at the end of their shifts. There lawsuit claimed that the process was laborious and the cumulative effect took between 10 and 30 minutes each day. The sued  Kaiser Permanente and Permanente Medical Group for wage and hour violations, seeking back pay and overtime for work that they say their employer did not include in their paychecks.

The lawsuit was filed under the FLSA, which provides that workers are entitled to receive pay for all of the hours that they work. They assert in the legal papers that federal law requires employers to pay workers in call centers for the time they spend booting up and logging in to the complex systems. The company settled the lawsuit for $6.2 million that will be shared among the workers based upon the hours they worked since 2012.

Traditional “Donning And Doffing” Disputes Continue

The issue runs somewhat parallel to issues that many workers face when specific safety clothes or costumes that are integral to the job and employers refuse to pay for the time workers spend “donning and doffing.”  In a general sense, employers usually are not required to pay workers for the time that they spend changing clothes. However, in fact-specific instances when specific clothing is integral and indispensable to their work duties, changing time may be compensable.

Several recent lawsuits have raised the issue of donning and doffing in its more traditional sense. Tyson Foods will pay $5.8 million in back pay and other damages to workers who were not paid for putting on and taking off safety aprons and boots at a Midwest pork processing plant. Characters at Disney are seeking back pay for the time they have spent putting on uniforms or costumes at theme parks.

Getting short-changed on pay can take many forms. If you believe that you are being forced to perform work-duties “off-the-clock,” you may have a claim against your employer. Getting the advice and guidance of a lawyer who is dedicated to wage and hour violations can give you peace of mind that your best interests are being served.

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