DeKeyser v. Thyssenkrupp Waupaca, Inc., No. 12-3306 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Waupaca manufactures iron castings and provides its foundry employees with personal protective equipment (PPE), including hard hats, safety glasses, ear protection, steel-toed footwear, and a fire-retardant uniform. Waupaca requires these employees to wear PPE while working; failure to comply can result in discipline. Waupaca provides locker rooms with showers. Typically, foundry workers finish their shift, clock out and proceed to locker rooms, where they remove their PPE, shower, and change into street clothes. Because of hazards associated with chemicals and dust to which some workers are exposed, Waupaca recommends that employees shower and remove their PPE on-site. Not all employees do so. Employees, representing a class of more than 400 (an opt-in class, 29 .S.C. 216(b)) alleged that Waupaca violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. 201, by not paying for time spent showering and changing clothes at work. The district court granted Waupaca summary judgment, ruling that those activities were not compensable under the FLSA because the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had not mandated that foundry workers shower and change clothes on-site. The Seventh Circuit reversed, reasoning that OSHA’s decision not to promulgate a rule requiring such activities does not bar a party from presenting evidence as to compensability under the FLSA and that factual disputes otherwise precluded summary judgment.