Typically when we see a wage and hour dispute it relates more to workers being forced to stay working past the end of their shift without pay. However, a recent case in California shows another side to overtime disputes. A lawsuit was brought against the Dole Food Co. which claimed that the time spent getting into and out of the mandatory safety equipment was time-consuming and resulted in unpaid overtime.
According to the suit, employees were required to begin suiting up before the start of their shifts and then remove their safety gear after their shifts had ended. These work-related tasks, which were required, were then being performed on the employees own time. The suit does not dispute the need for the equipment, but rather, argues that the employees ought to have been compensated for the time.
Cases like this one can be a challenge, as a large business or corporations is involved. Often, these cases can drag on through litigation, as big businesses have large sums of money set aside for legal purposes. The plaintiffs may tire of the process eventually, and then the company can end the dispute. However, there are also businesses who would prefer to reach a settlement rather than go through litigation, which can result in financial recompense much sooner for the plaintiffs.
Under California law, the workers should be paid for these required work activities. For other workers who have faced similar issues, there may be legal options available to pursue compensation for this time.
Source: Lawyers and Settlements, "California overtime pay lawsuit seeks compensation for wearing safety gear," Gordon Gibb, Jan. 18, 2013