The food processing industry serves an important role in our economy, and hourly workers in that industry deserve to be paid properly and fairly.
Companies engaged in food processing, manufacturing, and other types of production often require employees to wear protective clothing and equipment. While this is intended to improve workplace safety and ensure the quality of the goods they produce, many employers fail to compensate hourly workers for time spent putting on (“donning”) and taking off (“doffing”) necessary coveralls, ear protection, safety glasses, steel toed boots, bump caps, and other gear.
Some employers try to avoid paying wages and overtime by requiring production laborers to don their clothing and equipment at the beginning of their shifts, and doff the gear after their shifts have ended. Because hourly, non-exempt employees are usually paid only after clocking in and before clocking out, time devoted to pre-shift and post-shift donning and doffing is not paid.
For food processing workers, that unpaid time can be significant. In some cases, employees have been forced to arrive early and stay later to put in their required hours; this sometimes amounts to 40 minutes or more each day that often translates into overtime for which workers are not compensated in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
If you work in the food processing industry and believe that your employer has broken the law by failing to pay you the wages and overtime you deserve, it’s time for you to speak with a lawyer. The attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Employment Litigation Group have represented thousands of hourly workers in individual and class action lawsuits involving donning and doffing issues and other workplace abuses.
Please contact us today to learn how we can help.