Tyson Agrees to Pay for 'Donning and Doffing'

June 4, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Tyson Foods Inc. has agreed to pay nearly 3,000 workers at its Blountsville, Alabama, facility $500,000 in back overtime wages for, among other things, time spent putting on and taking off protective clothing.

A U.S. Department of Labor announcement said the company also agreed to a nationwide injunction requiring its poultry processing employees be paid for all hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  The agreement, filed by the department’s Office of the Solicitor in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama in Birmingham and subject to approval by the court, ensures that, for the first time, Tyson poultry processing workers will be paid for all the time they spend at the plant putting on and taking off protective and sanitary items, a process known as “donning and doffing,” as well as for the time they spend washing and sanitizing themselves and the items.

Workers also must be compensated for all time they spend walking and waiting that occurs during the workday, the DoL said.  Tyson Foods must keep accurate records of this time.

The agreement will become fully effective at the company’s non-union plants no later than December 1, 2012. In the interim, the company has agreed to pay workers at its non-union plants for additional minutes of non-production time daily, in addition to each worker’s production time. At union plants, the agreement will become fully effective by December 1, 2012, at the request of the applicable unions.

The Labor Department’s district court complaint was filed in May 2002, following an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division at the Blountsville plant.  In November 2009, a federal court jury in Birmingham found that Tyson violated the FLSA at its Blountsville facility by not properly compensating employees for hours worked (see Federal Jury Finds Tyson Violated FLSA).