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Employment Blog

How Much Should You Get Paid for Getting Dressed in the Morning?

The United States Supreme Court will be considering whether the time that an employee spends putting on and taking off work clothes is a compensable act which would require payment for time spent in that activity. A case involving employees of U.S. Steel Corp. has been accepted by the Supreme Court based on the issue of whether or not the time spent by an employee changing into work clothes must be paid for by the Company. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Wisconsin) held that the Company did not have to pay union-represented employees for time spent at the plant changing into work clothes where part of the work clothes included personal protective equipment. Other Courts of Appeals have held that personal protective equipment is not "clothes" and therefore the employer must compensate the employee for the time spent putting on that protective equipment. That is often called the "donning and doffing" of employer-required safety equipment.

This case will focus on whether or not an employer has to pay an employee who comes to work and then puts on work clothing at the work location should be paid for that time. There was also a question whether the time spent in "travel" from the locker room to the actual work site after the clothing was put on should constitute "travel time" under the Fair Standards Labor Act. Thankfully, that issue is not being addressed by the Supreme Court, thus the activity of walking to your work station is not considered paid time under the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision.

One has to wonder whether employees getting dressed in the morning in work clothes will ask for compensation for the time spent getting dressed. This will depend upon the outcome of this Supreme Court review. Employers may want to consider having a distinct procedure for employees putting on personal protective equipment used in the workplace to avoid this controversy. We may need to look at this further depending upon the Supreme Court decision.