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February 28, 2013
Supreme Court will hear case on work clothes

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider a case (Sandifer v. United States Steel Corporation) brought by employees of the United States Steel Corporation (US Steel). The workers claim they were not fairly compensated for the time required to change into and out of work clothes. They brought a class action suit against US Steel seeking compensation for changing time and compensation for the time to go from the locker room to their workstations.

The case involves provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It requires employers to compensate employees when they are engaging in a “principal activity.” However, the FLSA also states that employers are not required to compensate employees for time spent “changing clothes” in certain instances.

A district court agreed that the workers should be compensated for donning and doffing of clothing, but not for transit between locations. An appeals court concluded that neither was covered under the FLSA. Now the high court will take up the matter.

The petitioners are approximately 800 current or former employees at US Steel’s Gary [Indiana] Works and several other plants. The case will be taken up during the October 2013 Supreme Court term.
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