On Friday, January 29, 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced the filing of a consent judgment against Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. (“PPC”) in a case involving the company’s failure to properly compensate nonexempt employees for the time they spent donning and doffing work-related gear and the company’s recordkeeping. In the agreement filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, El Dorado Division, the DOL recovered $1,001,438 in overtime back wages for 798 current and former employees of PPC. In addition, PPC agreed to pay for time spent donning and doffing work-related gear in all plants nationwide.
According to the DOL, the employees were not paid for all “hours worked” because they were not paid for the time spent donning and doffing their work-related protective clothing at the beginning and end of the workday and before or after meals. Pursuant to the Fair Labor Standard Act (“FLSA”), all covered employees must be paid at least the federal minimum wage ($7.25) for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rate of pay for all hours worked beyond 40 hours per work week.