In the 2013 – 2014 Supreme Court term, the Court will hear and decide a number of cases affecting employers, including one FLSA case.
Sandifer v. U.S. Steel Corp.: The Court will consider what constitutes “changing clothes” under the FLSA. Under §203(o) of the FLSA, an employer need not compensate a worker for time spent changing clothes if that time is excluded from compensable time under a collective bargaining agreement. However, also under the FLSA, an employee must be paid for engaging in a “principal activity,” and putting on and taking off safety gear required by the employer may be a principal activity if it is an integral and indispensable part of the activities for which the worker is employed. In this case, employees at U.S. Steel Corp in Gary, Indiana brought suit under the FLSA claiming that they should be compensated for time spent changing into their work gear and traveling back and forth to the locker room. They argued that what they change into—flame retardant pants and jacket, work boots, hard hat, safety glasses and ear protection—was safety gear, not clothing as contemplated by the FLSA. The Court of Appeals disagreed and denied the claims. This case may clarify when an employer must pay employees for putting on and taking off safety gear at the beginning and end of their shifts.