Non-exempt hourly employees who work more than 40 hours must be paid overtime pay (1.5 times their regular rate for all hours worked over 40 per week). When these employees are not paid overtime, they may pursue an unpaid overtime action, where if successful, the employees can recover double the unpaid overtime pay plus attorneys’ fees and costs. Questions arise when employers have certain pre-workday policies which require employees to undertaken certain activities for employment before going on the clock. These cases are often referred to as “donning and doffing” cases. In Goldstein v. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24974(E. D. Pa. February 25, 2013)( Strawbridge, J.), the Court addressed a unique issue concerning employee uniform cleaning and granted a motion for conditional class action for hospital security guards who were not paid for time devoted to laundering uniforms.
In Goldstein, the security guards who regularly worked shifts in excess of 40 hours per week alleged FLSA violations for time the employees spent time maintaining a uniform that they were required to wear to work for which they were not paid by the employer. The employer’s policy required that employee uniforms must be clean, well pressed, worn neatly, and fully buttoned and provided for uniform inspection at the beginning of each shift and any violation of the uniform policy could result in disciplinary action against the employee. The Plaintiff contended that because the employer did not permit class members to clean, press, or otherwise maintain their work uniforms “on the clock” at their work sites, they had no alternative but to perform the required uniform maintenance work at home “‘off the clock” during hours they could otherwise have spent as they chose. Employees regularly spent between one to three hours each week separating their work uniforms from their street clothes and spot-cleaning, washing, drying and ironing their uniforms after each use to comply with the appearance policies.
The Court found that at the conditional class certification stage the Plaintiff does not have to prove liability but only has to demonstrate that the security guards were required to present themselves in a clean well pressed uniform in compliance with the employer’s written expectations and requirements. The Court concluded that the Plaintiff presented evidence beyond mere speculation, of a nexus between the manner in which the employer’s alleged policy affected the employees and the manner in which it affected other employees and granted the motion for conditional class certification to the class of security guards (but denied class certification to a broader proposed class of all Pennsylvania employees who were required to launder their own uniforms).
The Goldstein class certification decision confirms that any employee who is required to take any activities by the employer without compensation should have the situation reviewed by an experienced employment law attorney to determine if the employer is violating mandatory overtime pay regulations. For more information on unpaid overtime, the FLSA and Abramson Employment Law see http://www.job-discrimination.com/lawyer-attorney-1126494.html