Friday, January 16, 2009

employment - wages - "hours worked" - donning and doffing

Lugo, et al. v. Farmers Pride, Inc. - Superior Court - January 15, 2009

Dismissal of employees wage claims reversed on appeal.

The Pennsylvnaia Minimum Wage Act requires that certain minimum wages be paid for all “hours worked.” 43 P.S. § 333.104(a). The focal point of the issue before us is whether the concept of “hours worked” includes, under the PMWA, the time that appellants spent donning, doffing, and sanitizing their protective gear for their work in a chicken processing plant.

"The answer, under the facts of this case, is found in the regulations promulgated in support of the Pennsylvnaia Minimum Wage Act, which defines “hours worked” to include "time during which an employee is required by the employer to be on the premises of the employer, to be on duty or to be at the prescribed work place, time spent in traveling as part of the duties of the employee during normal working hours and time during which an employee is employed or permitted to work...." 34 Pa.Code § 231.1" Under that definition, the time spent donning, doffing, and sanitizing work gear is included in "hours worked" and is compensable.

The court also held that the employees could alternatively plead a claim for unjust enrichment.