Dole Faces Class Action Wage and Hour Lawsuit for Donning and Doffing
January 31, 2013
In a previous Santa Ana, California employment lawyers blog, Vincent Howard discussed a wage and hour lawsuit settlement for $32 million, settled by Tyson Foods, that has been called the largest settlement against a large poultry company in the history of the United States. The wage and hour lawsuit accused Tyson of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by failing to compensate workers for the time they spent donning and doffing, or putting on and removing their safety gear--necessary to wear to keep the food safe while processing at the plant.
In a similar California wage and hour lawsuit filed last month, Dole Food Company is facing a class action lawsuit, brought by Dole workers who claim that the company failed to pay them for the time it takes to put on and remove their sanitary suits.
The California class action lawsuit claims that dressing in protective gear and sanitizing shoe soles and hands are performed for the benefit of Dole, as food safety practices, in order to comply with Dole's policies--and the workers should therefore be compensated for the extra time it takes to put on and take off the gear.
The lawsuit also claims that Dole violated rest and lunch breaks, as employees must remove and then put on their gear again after the breaks--and the workers claim that this time shouldn't be counted toward their meal or break time.
According to Vincent Howard, Donning and doffing wage and hour rights are based on the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)--after a 2005 Supreme Court case ruling decided that workers must be paid for the time spent walking to and from the place where they are ordered to put on and remove their protective gear, and the place where they process the food. The high court ruling also stated that taking on and removing protective gear is a "principal activity" under federal law, and that under the FLSA, any time spent donning and doffing, as well as time spent waiting or walking after the worker begins his first work activity, and before he ends his last work activity, should be considered as part the worker's "continuous workday"--time for which the worker should be compensated.
The 2005 ruling strengthened the wage and hour rights of workers across the country. Last year, in 2012, the Supreme Court upheld a Court of Appeals ruling requiring a poultry processing company to compensate workers for time they spent donning and doffing their protective gear--strengthening the 2005 court decision. The 2012 ruling reportedly determined that even if some of the protective practices aren't required by law, the workers should be compensated for their time, if the practices are integral to the job.
In cities throughout Orange County, California, contact our labor and employment attorneys for a free consultation about your California wage and hour rights. Call Howard Law's managing attorney Vincent Howard today, at 1-800-872-5925.
Dole workers file class-action suit, alleging wage violations, Monterey County Weekly, January 3, 2013
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