Supreme Court to Consider Safety Clothing Case

Posted By Thomas F. Martin, PLC || 5-Aug-2013

Many workers, especially those in potentially dangerous work environments, should be supplied protective clothing by their employer, and must wear it to conduct their work. Without it, they are at risk for serious work injury. However, employers apparently want to avoid paying for the time it takes to change into such clothing.

The U.S. Supreme Court has recently agreed to consider whether union workers must be compensated for the time it takes them to change in and out of their personal safety equipment. In this case, about 800 current and former hourly workers at a U.S. Steel plant in Gary, Indiana say they must be compensated for the time spent changing clothes because it is a key part of their job as steel workers.

The court announced it will decide what constitutes “changing clothes” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The employers are attempting to avoid paying their workers for the time it takes for employee’s to change into and out of the protective clothing because the contract does not specify that workers will be paid for it. However, the FLSA law does contain a provision regarding “changing clothes” that the workers claim covers them.

Appeals courts around the country have offered mixed interpretations of the law. The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on the case in its next term, which begins in October 2013.

Regardless of the outcome of the case, worker safety should always be the goal of every employer, whether the employer wants to pay for the time it takes to protect their workers from injury or not. When employers put their workers at risk for a work injury by either not providing the proper safety gear, or not compensating an employee for the time it takes to take it on and off, everyone pays in the form of preventable injuries and higher workers compensation premiums.

If you or someone you care about suffered a work injury due to no, or improper safety gear, please contact the office of Thomas F. Martin PLC by calling (714) 594-5389.

Categories: Workers Compensation
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