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Woman loses appeal for overtime pay

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A sewing manager who sued her former employer to obtain overtime pay for work she did before her shift started lost her appeal because the employer didn’t know that she was working prior to her shift, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.

In Susan Kellar v. Summit Seating Inc., No. 11-1221, Susan Kellar sued Summit Seating Inc. on the premise that she is entitled to overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act for work she performed before the official start of her work shift. Her shift began at 5 a.m., but she said she would clock in 15 to 45 minutes early to review schedules, gather fabric, make coffee for employees and prepare work stations so that other employees could begin work right at 5 a.m. She said she would take a five-minute break during that time to smoke and socialize with her sister and co-worker Mamie Spice. Spice claimed that Kellar never performed any work before her shift and would chat and drink coffee until the shift began.

Kellar never mentioned to the company owners during the eight years she worked at Summit that she was working before her shift.

The District Court granted summary judgment to the company, finding Kellar’s pre-shift activities were “preliminary,” that any work she did before her shift was “de minimis” and Summit didn’t know she was working before her shift. The 7th Circuit affirmed on the issue of Summit being unaware of Kellar working prior to her shift start, but disagreed with the lower court’s conclusions regarding the “preliminary” and “de minimis” nature of Kellar’s pre-shift work.

Summit conceded for purposes of its motion for summary judgment that Kellar performed pre-shift work but argued it was “de minimis” in large part because it would have been administratively difficult to determine how much of that time is compensable. Kellar testified that she did the same activities each morning and may have spent up to 40 minutes performing them before her shift started. Judge Ann Claire Williams noted that Summit didn’t point to any cases that have found work exceeding between 10 and 15 minutes in duration is “de minimis.”

The court affirmed on the issue of Summit’s lack of knowledge that Kellar was performing these activities before her shift. Many Summit employees clocked in early and then socialized before their work shifts began, and nothing in the record shows the owners, who were aware of this practice, had reason to believe that Kellar was arriving early in order to work, wrote Williams. In addition, Kellar never mentioned to the owners that she was working prior to her shift.

 

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  1. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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