Tuesday, September 30, 2008, 3:56 PM

Turkey Processors Seek Gravy: Allegations in FLSA Include Donning and Doffing Claims

Posted by Kim Licata
Two current Colorado workers at Butterball, LLC's turkey processing plant have filed a complaint alleging various FLSA and wage and hour act violations, including a claim that they were not paid for the time that they spent donning and doffing protective gear needed for their turkey processing jobs. The complaint seeks relief on a putative class and collective-wide basis for Butterball employees, who the plaintiffs allege have been subject to systematic practices and policies of not fully compensating employees for time worked at the plant.

Employees' sanitizing required gear and equipment includes as boots, hair nets, ear plugs, smocks, safety glasses, liners, gloves, bump caps and hard hats. This equipment must be donned at the start of each shift and removed at the end of each shift. Plaintiffs also assert that employees were not compensated for sanitizing or walking to and from the production lines at the plants. The plaintiffs assert these allegations under both the federal FLSA and the Colorado wage and hour law.

The complaint seeks damages and injunctive relief for an estimated 700 potential class members of the Colorado plant, including current and former employees. The Defendant Butterball is facing similar lawsuits in Arkansas and in North Carolina. The Arkansas suit requests a nationwide class to address similar claims, but the court has not decided that issue to date. If a nationwide class is certified, then some of these other lawsuits may be amended to reflect only state law issues.

To read this complaint in Salazar v. Butterball, LLC, number 08-cv-02071, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, please click here.

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