Federal District Courts Continue to Certify Donning and Doffing Classes

On May 5, 2008, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin conditionally certified a class of hourly production employee’s FLSA claims under Section 216(b) and its state law claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. See Spoerle v. Kraft Foods Global, Inc., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37678 (W.D.Wis. May 5, 2008). In this case, the plaintiffs sought to represent a class defined as “[a]ll current and former hourly employees employed at Kraft Foods Global, Inc’s Oscar Mayer Foods Division Madison, Wisconsin plant since May 30, 2004 who were not paid regular or overtime pay for time spent donning and doffing personal protective equipment and walking to and from their work stations.” Id. at *25. The protective equipment at issue included footwear (shoe rubbers, rubber boots or work boots), hair nets, beard nets (if applicable), protective headgear (hard hat or bump cap), polyester frocks, and ear plugs or ear muffs. See id. at *5. Maintenance personnel in this class were also required to wear a cotton shirt and some employees had to wear safety glasses. As part of her opinion, District Judge Barbara Crabb noted that “[t]his is an easy case for class certification: plaintiffs are challenging defendant’s policy of refusing to pay hourly employees for certain activities; the class is limited to those employees who engage in those activities. It makes sense to decide the lawfulness of that policy with respect to all employees in one case.”

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