Post Foods failed in its effort to have a judge dismiss a lawsuit over whether workers should be paid for time they spend dressing and washing for work.
The lawsuit, filed in July 2019 by a local of the United Cereal, Bakery and Food Workers, concerns practices at a Post cereal manufacturing plant in Battle Creek, Mich. Employees are seeking back pay for time they spent putting on uniforms and other gear, and sanitizing their hands and boots – all of which had to be done before they were permitted to clock in for their shift.
Federal judge Hala Jarbou noted that the collective bargaining agreement between the union and Post explicitly excludes time spent changing into uniforms as paid time, so it was unlikely that the plaintiffs would prevail on that issue. She ruled, however, that the workers had a potentially viable claim over being unpaid for other preparatory activities.
"The [agreement] does not expressly exclude the time plaintiffs spend doing any of the following activities: handwashing; sanitizing; waiting in line to wash or sanitize; walking to the locker room and sanitizing station; and walking to and from plaintiffs' respective work areas," Jarbou wrote. Her ruling means that the suit can move forward.
Prior to May 2019, employees had been permitted to come to work in their uniforms and to enter the Battle Creek plant through one of four entrances. But Post then mandated that changing had to be done on-site and that workers had to use a single entrance and follow other procedures. The plaintiffs allege that these changes increase the amount of unpaid time they have to spend at the plant.