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Recent Fourth Circuit Labor and Employment Decisions

The Fourth Circuit has published opinions in three labor and employment cases in recent weeks.  The first case, Sepulveda v. Allen Family Foods, Inc., concerned a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) collective action that was brought on behalf of a class of current and former employees of a chicken processing plant.  The employees claimed, among other things, that the company had violated the FLSA by not compensating them for time spent donning and doffing their protective gear before and after their shifts.  There is a specific exception in FLSA for cases regarding compensable time for “changing clothes” when the employees are represented by a union that has negotiated a collective bargaining unit.  The Court held that putting on and taking off protecting gear was “changing clothes,” so the exception applied because these plaintiffs had a union, and so judgment was rightly granted to the employer.

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