U.S. Supreme Court Accepts Donning & Doffing Case

The case involves time spent by U.S. Steel workers to put on and later take off protective clothing, hard hats, ear plugs, boots, and hoods and also traveling from locker rooms to their workstations.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 19 agreed to hear Sandifer, et al. v. U.S. Steel Corp., No. 12-417, a case testing whether workers must be paid for time they spend donning and doffing protective equipment and then traveling to and from their workstations.

Lyle Denniston reported on www.scotusblog.com that the case is expected to be argued during the next term of the court, which begins in October 2013. The case involves name plaintiff Clifton Sandifer and several other U.S. Steel employees working at mills in Michigan and Illinois; it arose primarily from the company’s Gary Works. U.S. Steel won the case before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in May 2012, and the plaintiffs appealed.

The workers' union had agreed with U.S. Steel that time spent "changing clothes" would not be considered part of "the hours for which an employee is employed" -- language taken from the Fair Labor Standards Act, which in section 203(o) allows an employer and a union to agree that time spent "changing clothes' will not be included. The plaintiffs here contend changing into PPE is "a principal activity" they are employed to perform, and thus it triggers the start of the work day under FLSA.

To win their case, the workers will have to convince a majority of Supreme Court justices that protective gear is distinct from "work clothes," an argument the 7th Circuit explicitly rejected.

"Protection – against sun, cold, wind, blisters, stains, insect bites, and being spotted by animals that one is hunting – is a common function of clothing, and an especially common funding of work clothes worn by factory workers. It would be absurd to exclude all work clothes that have a protective function from 203(o), and thus limit the exclusion largely to actors' costumes and waiters' and doormen's uniforms," the appeals court held.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Green Quadrant EHS Software 2021

    Reserve your copy of the new report by independent analyst firm, Verdantix, to get a detailed, fact-based comparison of the 22 most prominent EHS software vendors in the industry.

  • Best Practices to Navigate ISO 45001

    Learn helpful tips and tricks to navigate your transition to ISO 45001 certification and ensure an effective health and safety management system.

  • Improve Your Safety Culture

    Learn the 3 fundamental areas to focus on to achieve safety culture excellence and what you can do to boost employee engagement in your EHS programs.

  • Chemical Safety: 5 Questions Answered by Experts

    Get answers to 5 of the most frequently asked questions about how to effectively mitigate chemical risk, get the most value out of your chemical data, and gain buy-in for a chemical management technology program.

  • How Has COVID-19 Changed Safety Culture?

    The COVID-19 pandemic has provided unique opportunities for health and safety professionals to rethink how they manage risk and develop stronger safety cultures. Read this eBook to learn actionable steps you can implement today to improve your programs.

  • Industry Safe

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - January February 2021

    January February 2021

    Featuring:

    • TRAINING: SOFTWARE
      Tips for Choosing the Best Training Software
    • COMBUSTIBLE DUST
      Assessing the Dangers of Dust Explosions
    • HAND PROTECTION
      Pushing the Boundaries of Hand Protection
    • FOOT PROTECTION
      Getting a Grip on Slip Resistance
    View This Issue