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Media Alerts - Bobbi-Jo Smiley; Amber Blow; Kelsey Turner v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company; Adecco USA, Inc. - Third Circuit
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October 10, 2016
  Bobbi-Jo Smiley; Amber Blow; Kelsey Turner v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company; Adecco USA, Inc. - Third Circuit
Headline: Third Circuit Holds Regular Paid Lunch Does Not Offset Required Overtime Pay

Area of Law: Fair Labor Standards Act

Issues Presented: Can DuPont offset overtime pay for employees by using the paid lunch time DuPont voluntarily provides to employees?

Brief Summary:

Employees working at DuPont's manufacturing plant in Towanda, PA bring a putative collective action and class action against DuPont seeking overtime compensation for before and after their shifts. DuPont voluntary provided these employees a thirty minute paid break and argued that break could offset the work employees were doing before and after their shifts. The Third Circuit reviewed the FLSA and determined that the lunch break could not offset overtime work because the employees were receiving it at their regular pay and not at a premium rate. The Third Circuit reversed and remanded the District Court's grant of summary judgment in favor of DuPont.

Extended Summary:

Bobbi-Jo Smiley, Amber Blow, and Kelsey Turner filed a putative collective action and class action against DuPont seeking overtime compensation for time before and after their shifts. 160 workers opted in to the class action. Appellants worked twelve-hour shifts at DuPont's manufacturing plant in Towanda, PA. DuPont directly employed Smiley and Blow, while Adecco employed Turner as an hourly contract employee. Employees were required to be onsite before and after their shifts to "don and doff" uniforms and protective gear. They were also required to participate in "shift relief" which involved sharing of information and status updates. The time spent on these two activities ranged from thirty to sixty minutes a day.

Although the FLSA does not require compensation for meal breaks, DuPont chose to compensate employees for one thirty minute paid lunch break, in addition to two non-consecutive thirty minute breaks. The paid break time always exceeded the amount of time Plaintiffs spent pre and post shift. Plaintiffs sought to recover overtime compensation for time spent donning and doffing their uniforms and protective gear and performing shift relief. DuPont argued that it could offset the overtime compensation with the paid breaks which they voluntarily provided. The District Court agreed holding that the FLSA allowed DuPont to use paid non-work time to offset the required overtime and dismissed the lawsuit entirely.

The Third Circuit first reviewed the statutory language of the FLSA. First, the Court determined that the voluntary paid lunch that DuPont provided is considered regular pay because the employees are compensated at a regular rate and not a premium rate. The Court looked to the definition of "hours worked" and permissible offsetting under the FLSA and determined that nothing in the FLSA authorizes the type of offsetting where an employer seeks to credit compensation that is included in calculating an employee's regular rate of pay against its overtime liability. The FLSA only provides for an offset of an employer's overtime liability using other compensation not already included in the regular rate and paid at a premium rate.

The FLSA does not require employers to treat meal breaks as hours worked, but it does not prohibit them from doing so. In this case, DuPont voluntary provided paid breaks and compensated employees with regular pay which can not offset overtime pay under the FLSA. The Third Circuit reversed and remanded.

Find the full opinion at:

http://www2.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/144583p.pdf

Panel: Vanaskie, Krause and Rendell, Circuit Judges

Argument Date: July 14, 2016

Date of Issued Opinion: October 7, 2016

Docket Number: No. 14-4583

Decided: Reversed and Remanded

Case Alert Author: Jessica Wood

Counsel:

Thomas M. Marrone, Esq., Patricia V. Pierce, Esq., Counsel for Appellants Bobbi-Jo Smiley, Amber Blow, and Kelsey Turner

David S. Fryman, Esq., Amy L. Bashore, Esq., Counsel for Appellee E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company

A. Patricia Diulus-Myers, Eric R. Magnus, Counsel for Appellee Adecco USA, Inc.

Rachel Goldberg, Esq., Counsel for Amicus Curiae, Secretary, United States Department of Labor

Author of Opinion: Rendell, Circuit Judge

Circuit: Third Circuit

Case Alert Supervisor: Prof. Susan L. DeJarnatt

    Posted By: Susan DeJarnatt @ 10/10/2016 11:15 AM     3rd Circuit  

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