The Arkansas Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling today, has upheld a lower court’s finding that Gerber Products must pay its Fort Smith workers for the time they spend putting on and taking off work uniforms. The process takes about four hours a week and must be performed at the plant, the suit said. The case is worth about $3 million in claimed pay.
Justice Karen Baker wrote the opinion for the majority. Chief Justice Howard Brill and Justices Rhonda Wood and Jo Hart dissented.
The company argued the donning/doffing pay had essentially been bargained away in a collective bargaining agreement with workers that paid them all well above the minimum wage. The employees’ attorney said that right had not been explicitly bargained away and the the minimum wage law prohibited the effect of Gerber’s position — non-payment of overtime for hours in excess of 40 in a week.
Here’s the majority opinion. It said the process of donning and doffing clothing and other sanitary steps constituted compensable work. The minority said it could open the floodgates to similar cases. More reaction compiled here by AP.