Willamette Law Online

United States Supreme Court Certiorari Granted


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Sandifer v. United States Steel Corp.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: February 19, 2012
Case #: 12-417
Court Below: Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, 678 F.3d 590 (2012)
Full Text Opinion: http://www.ca7.uscourts.gov/tmp/PY1ERR8G.pdf

Employment Law: Whether donning and doffing safety clothing falls within the meaning of “changing clothes” in Section 203(o) of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Approximately eight hundred current and former employees brought action against their employer (Respondent) asserting that it failed to correctly compensate them under the Fair Labor Standards Act Act (“FLSA”) 29 U.S.C. 201, et seq.

Respondent’s employees are not compensated for donning and doffing safety gear worn on the job. The union employees argue that this time ordinarily should be compensable under the FLSA. However FLSA §203(o) provides that where an applicable collective bargaining agreement excludes time spent “changing clothes or washing” from the worker’s compensable work week, such activities are not part of the worker’s employed hours.

The District Court held that within the meaning of § 203(o) of the FLSA the safety equipment constitutes “clothes” and “changing clothes” is not limited to substituting one item for another, but also putting on additional items, and dismissed the Petitioners' claim. The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding that “clothing” in § 203(o) includes safety clothes.

Due to the widespread disagreement among the lower courts, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to resolve what “changing clothes” means in § 203(o) of FLSA.