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February 1, 2013 / Brandon Brouillette

Dole Workers File “Donning and Doffing” Class Action for Unpaid Wages and Missed Meal and Rest Breaks


On December 26, 2012, a class action lawsuit was filed against Dole Food Company in Monterrey Superior Court on behalf of plant workers alleging they were not paid for time spent off the clock “donning and doffing.”  According to the complaint, Dole does not pay its workers for time spent dressing in protective gear and sanitizing hands and shoes soles both before work and during meal and rest breaks. As a result, the class seeks payment for unpaid wages as well as penalties for missed meal and rest breaks.

Under California law, employers must pay employees for all “hours worked,” which is defined as “the time during which an employee is subject to the control of an employer, and includes all the time the employee is suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to do so.”  Accordingly, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement has interpreted “hours worked” to include the time it takes employee to change in and out of special clothing, uniforms, or gear that is required to be worn as a condition of employment.  In addition, California law requires that employers provide uninterrupted meal and rest breaks by relieving employees of all duties, relinquishing control over their activities, permitting them a reasonable opportunity to take their breaks, and not impeding them or discouraging them from doing so.  Thus, for example, if Dole workers were required to spend some of that time changing into and out of protective gear or sanitizing, Dole would be in violation of California’s meal period requirements and subject to penalties.

If you believe you have not been compensated for time spent working off the clock, such as time spent “donning and doffing,” please contact the attorneys of Khorrami, LLP for a free consultation regarding your potential claims.

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