Reports have surfaced that Massachusetts-based Friendly’s – associated with Dairy Farmers of America Dairy Brands – is denying compensation from ice cream manufacturing employees. If it is proven the company fails to pay workers for all the regular and overtime hours they’ve worked, the wrongful withholding would violate the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Donning and Doffing of Workers’ PPE

State and federal regulations mandate that food manufacturing workers wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to safeguard them from dangerous machinery while ensuring food safety to protect the public.

Putting on (donning) or taking off (doffing) PPE is a job requirement that adds time to the workday. When employers such as Friendly’s don’t compensate employees for donning and doffing time, they engage in wage abuse – and it’s against the law.

Unlike time spent putting on and taking off a uniform, FLSA pay rules apply to required job activities, including:

  • Putting on or removing required safety equipment or clothing, such as protection for eyes, ears, hands, face, head, and feet.
    • “Walking and waiting time” that occurs before and after the employee’s principal work responsibilities.

The “essential functions” listed in a recent Friendly’s production worker position show the need to wear PPE on the job:

  • Set up and operate all equipment and machinery including as required the pumping of base mixes from various pasteurized holding tanks to ice cream production mix tanks
  • Load and control ingredient feeder to ensure prescribed amounts of fruit, candy, nuts are added.  
  • Set up and operate and adjust flavor tank, filler, ingredient loader/feeders, freezer tunnel, conveyor, heat shrink wrap, and other mixing and assembly line equipment and machinery.
  • Pipe and pump from tanks to production mix tanks to meet requirements exercising care and following sanitation process procedures in pumping.
  • Adjust machinery and equipment to quality, quantity requirements.
  • Disassemble equipment, wash and sanitize units, sinks, and floor.  
  • Check for cleanliness, worn parts, make minor repairs, reassemble.  
  • Detect and report malfunctioning equipment, defective material, unusual situations to proper supervision.  
  • Observe all safety practices, procedures, rules and regulations.  
  • Maintain work areas and equipment in clean, sanitized, and orderly condition according to prescribed requirements. 

The FLSA requires employers to pay overtime (time-and-a-half) when employees work over 40 hours a week. When donning and doffing time pushes the workweek beyond 40 hours, employees deserve to be paid accordingly.

Talk to Our Experienced Overtime Pay Lawyers Today

Sommers Schwartz’s Unpaid Wages and Overtime Litigation Group has fought for thousands of workers subjected to wage abuse. We’ve helped them obtain compensation for donning and doffing, overtime pay, minimum wage, and other FLSA violations all over the U.S.

We are currently investigating the wage theft reports against Friendly’s. If you are or were a Friendly’s production worker and believe you have been denied wages for the time spent donning and doffing PPE, contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation.

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Jesse Young

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Jesse Young

Jesse Young represents clients in serious employment disputes, such as severance negotiations, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing activity, employment contracts, terminations, and compliance. In addition, he has appeared in hundreds of wage-and-hour lawsuits and hundreds more arbitrations arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act and similar state laws.