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Changing, walking to workstations not compensable acts

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that employees asking to be compensated for changing into safety clothing and walking to their work stations are undermining the efforts of the union that represents them.

In Clifton Sandifer, et. al. v. United States Steel Corporation, Nos. 10-1821, 10-1866, Clifton Sandifer and other workers claimed that United States Steel Corp. was in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act by not compensating them for the time they spend changing into safety gear and walking to their work stations. A District judge held that clothes changing is excluded from the FLSA, as outlined in Section 203(o), but he certified for interlocutory appeal the question of whether “travel time” was compensable. The plaintiffs cross-appealed the District Court’s decision about whether changing clothes is compensable.

The plaintiffs argue that the term “clothes” does not apply to the present case, because the garments that they change into and out of before and after their shift are safety gear. On behalf of the 7th Circuit panel, Judge Richard Posner wrote that clothing is by nature protective.

“It would be absurd to exclude all work clothes that have a protective function from section 203(o), and thus limit the exclusion largely to actors’ costumes and waiters’ and doormen’s uniforms,” Posner wrote. He also stated that putting on a hard had and safety glasses and inserting earplugs was non-compensable, as all of those actions combined lasted only seconds.

U.S. Steel’s collective bargaining agreement does not require it to pay workers for walking to their work stations or changing clothes. And Posner wrote that if workers have a legal right to be paid for that time, “the company will be less willing to pay them a high wage for the time during which they are making steel; it will push hard to reduce the hourly wage so that its overall labor costs do not rise.”

Posner also wrote that not all requirements of employees constitute employment, using as an example that when a person calls in sick to work, unless he is on paid sick leave, he is not paid for the time it takes to place that call.

“The plaintiffs are adverse to their union, to the interests of other steelworkers, and to their own long-term interests.” Posner wrote.

The 7th Circuit affirmed the District Court’s finding that the act of changing clothes is non-compensable. It also ruled in favor of U.S. Steel on interlocutory appeal and found the case has no merit and should be dismissed by the District Court.


 

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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