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Overtime Pay For Putting On Gear, Taking Off Protective Gear At Work

Overtime Pay Putting On Gear Taking Off Protective GearGRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A jury verdict was recently rendered for workers of Sara Lee Corp. in an unpaid overtime lawsuit at the federal courthouse in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The jury found that Sara Lee Corp. violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by failing to compensate production workers for time spent putting on and taking off protective gear.  This is also known as “donning and doffing.”  The employees would put on the gear in a second-floor locker room, walk downstairs, go to the laundry area for work items,  then walk to their work area before clocking in for their shift. The workers would only begin to get paid once their shifts started.  Then, once the shift ended, the employees would have to reverse the process. 

Southfield attorney Matt Turner was the lead trial attorney for the case.  “[The FLSA] says once you’ve started your workday, everything you do thereafter is compensable,” he added, adding that the donning and doffing were “principal activities” of their jobs.  “[F]rom the time they started putting their stuff on in the locker room until they started getting paid, that might have been 15 or 20 minutes.  Although these might just seem like incremental minutes each day, they add up over the long run and overtime pay was required. 

The jury also found that Sara Lee violated the FLSA willfully, and that the employees at the Sara Lee meat processing plant in Zeeland could be able to recover an extra year of damages. .   Damages will include unpaid overtime and significant legal fees and attorney’s fees for pursuing the lawsuit.  The amount of damages will be determined at an as-yet unscheduled

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