Consol Energy Prevails In Overtime Suit

Consol Energy Prevails In Overtime Suit

PITTSBURGH — A federal district court in Pennsylvania held that Consol Energy, a company that owned a coal mine in the state, was not required to pay overtime to the members of a class action suit filed by its employees. The suit, filed by an employee on behalf of a putative class of affected workers, alleged that the company violated its obligations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by failing to pay certain employees overtime. The class could have covered as many as 579 workers, of which 157 opted in to the suit.

Off-the-Clock Commuting

According to the lawsuit, Consol began requiring employees of its contractors to park in an off-site lot a quarter of a mile from from the entrance to the mine where they worked. The contractor provided transportation to and from the lot at the beginning and end of workers’ shifts. However, the new parking arrangement required that employees arrive for work at least 15 minutes before the start of their designated shifts. The plaintiff claimed that the time the employees spent in transit to and from work, in addition to time spent attending safety meetings and submitting to drug and alcohol testing, constituted integral and indispensable activity that was covered under FLSA which employees should be compensated for.

Integral and Indispensable Activities

The federal district court relied on a decision issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in Integrity Staffing Solutions Inc. v. Busk. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that workers filling orders did not need to be paid for time they spent going through security checks. According to the Supreme Court in its opinion, an activity is integral and indispensable to the principal activities that an employee is meant to perform if it is an intrinsic element of those activities and one which the employee cannot avoid if he or she will perform the principal activities of the job.

In general, time that employees spend commuting between the home and the workplace is not considered hours worked under FLSA. However, when an employer requires an employee to perform work-related tasks while commuting, then the employee’s “hours worked” includes the time spent performing that work-related duty even if performed while commuting. Additionally, time spent by an employee in travel as part of their principal activities, such as travelling from job site to job site throughout the work day, is considered work time and is compensable.

The issue of what constitutes “hours worked” under FLSA is a complex one and requires analysis. You should call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page if you believe that you have not been compensated for time you spent performing tasks that are part of your principal work activities. Our top-rated team of wage lawyers will evaluate your situation to determine your best course of action. We will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. There are strict time limitations for filing, so it is important that you call our experienced attorneys today.

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