Donning and Doffing According to the U.S. Supreme Court

Donning and Doffing According to the U.S. Supreme Court

It is not very often a U.S. Supreme Court Justice begins the Court’s opinion with “The question before us is the meaning of the phrase ‘changing clothes’…,” but that is exactly what happened last month when the United States Supreme Court ruled on an important donning and doffing case initiated by U.S. Steel workers. The whole case revolved around the definition of “changing clothes.”

U.S. Supreme Court Clarifies Meaning of “Changing Clothes” Under FLSA

By | Employment Law Alert | February 4, 2014
U.S. Supreme Court Clarifies Meaning of “Changing Clothes” Under FLSA

On January 27, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion in Sandifer v. United States Steel Corp., which clarified what it means for an employee to be “changing clothes” under Section 3(o) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The Court’s decision will affect unionized workplaces, where employees change in and out of (or “don and doff”) protective or sanitary clothing in connection with their jobs.

High Court Clarifies Definition of “Changing Clothes” In Donning-Doffing Case

High Court Clarifies Definition of “Changing Clothes” In Donning-Doffing Case

Under Section 203(o) of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), an employee’s time spent “changing clothes” at the beginning or end of each workday is not compensable if such time is expressly excluded from compensable work time in a bona fide collective bargaining agreement or if there is a “custom or practice” of non-payment for such activities (or payment for a set amount of time). 

U.S. Supreme Court Defines “Changing Clothes” Under the FLSA, Overruling Ninth Circuit Definition

U.S. Supreme Court Defines “Changing Clothes” Under the FLSA, Overruling Ninth Circuit Definition

In 2010, the Ninth Circuit held that the time police officers spend before and after their paid shifts donning and doffing is not compensable work time under the FLSA so long as the police officers have the option and ability to put on and take off their uniforms and gear away from the employer’s premises. 

Supreme Court Rules That “Donning and Doffing” Protective Gear Subject to Collective Bargaining; Leaves Door Open for Future Claims

Supreme Court Rules That “Donning and Doffing” Protective Gear Subject to Collective Bargaining; Leaves Door Open for Future Claims

On Monday, January 27, 2014, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a group of unionized steel workers at U.S. Steel Corporation did not need to be compensated for the time they spent “donning and doffing” safety gear before and after work.