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  • Failure to Pay Cannabis Workers Overtime for Donning and Doffing PPE: Janice Dutcher et al. v. Cresco Labs Inc. et al.

Sommers Schwartz attorneys Matthew L. TurnerKevin J. Stoops, and Rod M. Johnston filed a class action lawsuit against a cannabis lab over allegations that it failed to compensate its employees.  

Filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the complaint alleged that the defendant refused to pay overtime wages in violation of state and federal employment laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Massachusetts Wage Act. The lab forced workers to arrive early to undergo mandatory health screenings and to put on (“don”) and take off (“doff”) company-issued personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, hair nets, arm sleeves, gloves, scrubs, and protective shoes. However, the lab refused to compensate the employees for the time required to comply with these measures, which often pushed their hours beyond 40 hours and entitled them to overtime pay.  

The complaint further alleged breach of contract and unjust enrichment, arguing that the time required to put on and remove PPE was “an integral and indispensable part” of work activities for which the lab was contractually obligated to compensate employees. The lab’s policy also denied employees their contractual right to complete their 30-minute unpaid meal periods because they had to spend part of that time putting off and taking on PPE.  Employees alleged the time spent complying with the company-issued health measures was between 12 to 16 minutes.     

Sommers Schwartz represented the lab’s “cultivation employees,” including cultivation agents, edibles agents, gardening agents, kitchen agents, manufacturing agents, packaging agents, and processing agents.  

In an interview with Law360, Matt Turner said, “We expect cannabis companies to treat their employees fairly and comply with state and federal wage and hour laws like all other employers…. We intend to hold Cresco accountable for requiring their dedicated employees to work off the clock.”

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