Assistance for Tennessee Employees Whose Wages Do Not Reflect the “Donning” and “Doffing” of Required Work Uniforms

If you should be paid but are not, Tennessee wage and hour lawyers can help in Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, and Jackson

Are employers required to pay their employees for the time it takes them to hang up their street clothes in their lockers and don their special work clothes or protective gear before their work period officially begins? Or to pay them for the time it takes, when the work period ends, to remove their work clothing and wash up before leaving? Even if each of those activities were to take as little as fifteen minutes, it could add up to two and a half hours of overtime per employee at the end of each 40-hour week. In a large enough workplace, such as a major meat packing plant, that can translate into tens of thousands of dollars in overtime compensation every payday. Understandably, employers would like to avoid the extra cost if possible; but is it possible to do so and not violate wage and hour laws? Quite likely, it is not.

If you believe your employer is depriving you of overtime pay by not counting time related to “donning and doffing” special work clothes and protective gear, you should speak with one of the Tennessee wage and hour lawyers at Gilbert Russell McWherter Scott Bobbitt PLC. The lawyers at The Firm have more than eighty years’ collective experience advocating for employee rights. We can help.

“Changing clothes” has changed since 1938

The American workplace has undergone enormous transformation since the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was passed in 1938. There was little if any special protective clothing to be donned at that time, and it was not considered necessary to pay employees for the time it took to either don it or to walk between their lockers and workspaces afterward. In 1947, the Portal to Portal Act declared that donning and doffing of special clothing was “incidental” to work and that the time it took was not compensable.

Beginning in 1970, however, the Occupational Safety and Health Act began requiring protective clothing and equipment in the workplace that might have made some employees unrecognizable to their predecessors. The Department of Labor was taking these developments into account and issued a series of opinions concerning the nature and time required to don special protective clothing and equipment in the workplace. Then, in 2005 the Supreme Court held that donning and doffing protective clothing is not “incidental,” but is “integral and indispensable” to work, and is a “principal activity” and compensable. Time spent walking and waiting after the employee engaged in this first principal activity (donning), and before finishing the last principal activity (doffing), being part of the “continuous workday,” are thus compensable under the FLSA.

The attorneys at The Firm have built a solid reputation of success as employment law advocates, with more than eighty years’ collective experience. Because we are licensed to practice in both federal and state courts, we can represent you with equal skill and determination before both federal and state wage and hour regulatory agencies.

If you are eligible for donning and doffing pay, a Tennessee attorney can help you collect

If you believe that your employer is wrongfully depriving you of overtime compensation by not paying you for time spent donning and doffing special protective equipment, we want to hear from you. Please call 888.354.FIRM (3476) to discuss your complaint with an experienced Tennessee wage and hour lawyer at the Gilbert Firm or fill out our contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our offices are conveniently located in Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, and Jackson.