As part of a settlement agreement, the Arkansas food giant Tyson Foods has agreed to pay 3,000 workers at one of its facilities the sum of $500,000.00 in unpaid wages.  Under the settlement agreement, Tyson also agreed to compensate poultry processing workers at all of its plants for the time they spend putting on and taking off protective and sanitary items; washing and sanitizing themselves and the items; and the walking and waiting that occurs during the workday.  The agreement must be approved by a Federal Court in Alabama. 

The settlement was the result of a complaint brought in 2002 by the United States Department of Labor, which accused the company of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). 

The type of matter litigated herein is referred to as a “doffing and donning” case.  In such cases, the issue is whether employees should be paid for the time spent putting on and taking off clothing, including uniforms and protective gear.  Whether employers must pay for this time is a very fact-sensitive issue, and thus depends on the unique facts of each case.

If you wish to discuss whether you (or, if you are an employer, your employees) must be paid for putting on and taking off their work gear, please feel free to contact David S. Feather, Esq., at (516) 745-9000.