The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has determined that the time poultry workers spend donning and doffing protective gear at the beginning and end of their shifts must be compensated as an “integral and indispensable” part of the principal activity of employment. Perez v. Mountaire Farms, Inc., No. 09-1917 (4th Cir., decided June 7, 2011). Because the time the employees spent doffing and donning some of their gear during an uncompensated meal break was related to their meal break and took a minimal amount of time, the court ruled that time non-compensable.

The court found that the employer did not willfully violate the law, thus a two-year statute of limitations was applied to the litigation. And the lack of willfulness was found to be evidence of its good faith, so the court denied the employees’ request for liquidated damages under the Fair Labor Standards Act.