PHILADELPHIA — A U.S. Court of Appeals judge recently gave new life to a class action overtime pay lawsuit brought by almost 200 Pennsylvania plaintiffs alleging their employer owes back wages for the time they spent putting on and taking off their protective workwear. A District Court judge previously dismissed the lawsuit, citing the defendant, DuPont Co., adequately compensated its employees for their time.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim they needed to wear special protective gear at their assembly plant to make the X-ray screens and coated films for DuPont. The defendant required their employees to begin each 12-hour shift in their gear, ready to work and receive daily briefings, which added to the time they were not compensated for.
The workers contend they should be compensated for the time they spend putting on and taking off the gear, known as donning and doffing, before and after each shift. The plaintiffs estimate it takes them 30 minutes to don and doff their protective gear and therefore worked more than 40 hours per week for which they should be compensated appropriately under the law.
The defendant claims it already adequately compensated workers for their time by giving them paid lunch breaks, a practice it claims it is under no obligation to do. However, the Appeals Court ruling rebuffed that argument, citing the defendant cannot skirt its responsibility to pay workers one and a half times their regular hourly rate for overtime hours by substituting a paid lunch break at regular work pay.
With that ruling, the unpaid overtime class action lawsuit goes back down to the federal District Court which previously dismissed the claim. That Pennsylvania District Court will now have to rule on a variety of issues and ultimately decide whether or not the plaintiffs will be fully compensated for their hard work.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers must pay their employees one and a half times their regular hourly rate of pay for overtime hours worked. The FLSA does not allow employers to compensate employees with paid time off, except for state and local workers.
DuPont overtime pay lawsuits
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