A federal district court was mistaken in granting summary judgment to manufacturer DuPont in a dispute regarding employee overtime claims, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. In Smiley v. El DuPont de Nemours & Co., the appellate panel ruled the company can’t use the compensation it gave workers for meal breaks (which it was not required to do) as an offset for overtime compensation due.
This was true even though the meal break pay during the 12-hour shift often exceeded the 30-to-60 minutes for which workers weren’t paid for donning/ doffing their uniforms and protective gear and conducting “shift relief,” that involved incoming and outgoing workers to share information about the status of the work. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) doesn’t authorize this kind of offsetting for overtime compensation, the court ruled, citing its 2005 precedential holding in Wheeler v. Hampton Twp. In that case, the court held that offsetting overtime pay is confined to situations in which employers are paying “extra compensation” at the premium rate of 1.5 times the regular hourly.
According to court records, employees at the plant routinely worked 12-hour shifts. They were required to be on site for a period of time before and after each shift in order to participate in “shift relief” and to don and doff their protective gear and uniforms. Typically in total this took a half hour to an hour. Continue Reading ›