Dole Faces Class Action Wage and Hour Lawsuit for Donning and Doffing

January 31, 2013

In a previous Santa Ana, California employment lawyers blog, Vincent Howard discussed a wage and hour lawsuit settlement for $32 million, settled by Tyson Foods, that has been called the largest settlement against a large poultry company in the history of the United States. The wage and hour lawsuit accused Tyson of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by failing to compensate workers for the time they spent donning and doffing, or putting on and removing their safety gear--necessary to wear to keep the food safe while processing at the plant.

In a similar California wage and hour lawsuit filed last month, Dole Food Company is facing a class action lawsuit, brought by Dole workers who claim that the company failed to pay them for the time it takes to put on and remove their sanitary suits.

The California class action lawsuit claims that dressing in protective gear and sanitizing shoe soles and hands are performed for the benefit of Dole, as food safety practices, in order to comply with Dole's policies--and the workers should therefore be compensated for the extra time it takes to put on and take off the gear.

The lawsuit also claims that Dole violated rest and lunch breaks, as employees must remove and then put on their gear again after the breaks--and the workers claim that this time shouldn't be counted toward their meal or break time.

According to Vincent Howard, Donning and doffing wage and hour rights are based on the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)--after a 2005 Supreme Court case ruling decided that workers must be paid for the time spent walking to and from the place where they are ordered to put on and remove their protective gear, and the place where they process the food. The high court ruling also stated that taking on and removing protective gear is a "principal activity" under federal law, and that under the FLSA, any time spent donning and doffing, as well as time spent waiting or walking after the worker begins his first work activity, and before he ends his last work activity, should be considered as part the worker's "continuous workday"--time for which the worker should be compensated.

The 2005 ruling strengthened the wage and hour rights of workers across the country. Last year, in 2012, the Supreme Court upheld a Court of Appeals ruling requiring a poultry processing company to compensate workers for time they spent donning and doffing their protective gear--strengthening the 2005 court decision. The 2012 ruling reportedly determined that even if some of the protective practices aren't required by law, the workers should be compensated for their time, if the practices are integral to the job.

In cities throughout Orange County, California, contact our labor and employment attorneys for a free consultation about your California wage and hour rights. Call Howard Law's managing attorney Vincent Howard today, at 1-800-872-5925.

Dole workers file class-action suit, alleging wage violations, Monterey County Weekly, January 3, 2013

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Department of Labor: Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Department of Labor (DOL): Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

Related Blog Posts:

Workers Settle Wage and Hour Lawsuit with Indianapolis Hotel Staffing Company, California Employment Lawyers Blog, December 13, 2012

Tyson Workers to Receive $32M in Wage and Hour Settlement, California Employment Lawyers Blog, September 26, 2012

CA Labor Commissioner Sues Farm Labor Contractor for Wage and Hour Violations, California Employment Lawyers Blog, August 21, 2012

Courtney Love Sued for Wage and Hour Violations, Wrongful Termination, California Employment Lawyers Blog, July 19, 2012

Celine Dion Sued for Employee Misclassification, Wage and Hour Violations, California Employment Lawyers Blog, July 10, 2012

CA Labor Commissioner and DIR Continue to Combat Wage Theft in the Workplace, California Employment Lawyers Blog, June 30, 2012

Rite Aid to Pay Over $20M in Class Action Wage and Hour Lawsuit Settlement, California Employment Lawyers Blog, June 19, 2012

Los Angeles Car Wash Workers Sue Employers for Wage and Hour Violations, California Employment Lawyers Blog, May 23, 2012

DOL Launches Los Angeles-area Restaurant Enforcement Initiative to Combat FLSA Violations, California Employment Lawyers Blog, May 3, 2012

Meat Packing Workers Receive Nearly $164K in Overtime Back Pay after FLSA Violations, California Employment Lawyers Blog, March 22, 2012

U.S. Department of Labor's Agreement with Tyson Foods on "Donning and Doffing" Lawsuit Influences Future Wage and Hour Rights, California Employment Lawyers Blog, June 4, 2010

FLSA "Donning and Doffing" Wage and Hour Rights, California Employment Lawyers Blog, May 18 2010

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