District Courts Interpreting the Portal-To-Portal Act Are Consistently Holding That Sanitary and Protective Gear Worn by Beef and Poultry Workers Is “Intergral and Indispensable” to Their Jobs and, Therefore, Compensable

Today’s blog entry should assist workers’ rights lawyers who are trying to fend off Corporate America’s argument that activities associated with “donning and doffing” sanitary and protective gear worn by beef and poultry workers are non-compensable “preliminary or postliminary” activities under the Portal-to-Portal Act. As discussed below, at least three district courts already have rejected this argument in 2008 alone.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) requires that covered workers receive at least a minimum wage for all time “employed,” 29 U.S.C. 206(a)(1), and that they receive overtime compensation “at a rate of not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which he is employed,” id. at 207(a)(1). As such, the FLSA reflects “a Congressional intention to guarantee either regular or overtime compensation for all actual work or employment.” Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Co. v. Muscoda Local No. 123, 321 U.S. 590, 597 (1944). The FLSA defines the term “employ” as “includ[ing] to suffer or permit to work.” Id. at 203(g). Thus, a worker is entitled to the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime protections for periods in which he “suffer[ed] or [was] permit[ted] to work.”

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