South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Time Spent Taking Protective Gear On and Off Is Due Compensation

Supreme Court held that the time employees must spend putting on protective gear at work, and then removing the gear, is due compensation as part of their work day.

Topic Employment Law
Key Words

Fair Labor Standards Act; Portal-to-Portal Act; Safety Gear; Wages

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Employees files a class action suit seeking compensation for time spent putting required safety gear on and taking it off, and for the time spent walking from the locker rooms to the production floor and back at a beef packing plant. There were different interpretations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) and Portal-to-Portal Act (PPA), which governs when workers are to be compensated for work-related activities. To clarify rulings on the law by lower courts, the Supreme Court heard the matter.


The time spend by the meat processing plant employees walking between locker rooms and production areas after putting on special safety gear in the locker rooms was time covered by the FSLA. The Portal-to-Portal Act, which concerns when work begins and ends, did not eliminate wage coverage for such time. Similarly, the time employees spent waiting to remove protective gear at the end of their work shifts, is covered work time due compensation under the FSLA. However, time spent by employees when they arrive at work, but before they begin to put on protective gear, is not covered by the FSLA, so need not be compensated time.


IPB, Inc. v. Alvarez, 126 S.Ct. 514 (Sup. Ct., 2005)

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