Mitchell v. JCG Indus., Inc., No. 13-2115 (7th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
The employees of the Chicago poultry processing plant are represented by a union. Before beginning work, they are required to put on a sterilized jacket, plastic apron, cut‐resistant gloves, plastic sleeves, earplugs, and a hairnet. They must remove this sanitary gear at the start of their half‐hour lunch break and put it back on before returning to work. They are not compensated for the time spent changing. They alleged that the employer violated overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. 201 and of the Illinois Minimum Wage Law. The district judge granted the employer summary judgment and denied class certification with respect to the state‐law claim. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The Act excludes from time for which an employee must be compensated for “any time spent in changing clothes at the beginning or end of each workday which was excluded from measured working time … by the express terms of or by custom or practice under a bona fide collective‐ bargaining agreement applicable to the particular employee.” The cause of amicable labor relations would be impaired by reading broadly laws that remove wage and hour issues from the scope of collective bargaining. Employer and union in this case agreed not to count the tiny changing times as compensated work. The plaintiffs were trying to upend the deal struck by their own union.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on May 28, 2014.