- Current and former employees for Cresco Labs have sued the Illinois-based company, alleging that it violated federal and state law by refusing to pay them for time spent "donning and doffing" personal protective equipment (Dutcher et al. v. Cresco Labs, Inc., No. 1:21-cv-02106 (N.D. Ill., April 29, 2021)).
- Cresco cultivates, manufactures and sells cannabis and medical cannabis products. The company required employees to wear company-issued protective clothing and safety equipment during their shifts to prevent contamination and comply with federal and state governmental regulations, according to the complaint. This included protective shoes, scrubs, masks, hair nets, arm sleeves and gloves. Employees were required to change into the personal protective equipment at the worksite before clocking in; they also were required to remove the gear at the worksite after clocking out, the suit alleged.
- The plaintiffs said in the complaint that the mandatory pre-shift and post-shift "donning and doffing" process is compensable because it is an integral and indispensable part of their principal work activities.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that only tasks classified as "principal activities" — those "indispensable" and "integral" part of an employee's duties — are compensable time. The U.S. Department of Labor has said that pre- and post-shift activities "may or may not" be considered hours worked under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, depending on the circumstances. For example, "[w]alking, riding, or traveling to and from the actual place where you perform the principal activities which you are employed to perform would not be hours worked," according to the federal agency. Driving to a parking area and riding to a work site in a company bus would not be compensable time, it said. Similarly, an employee taking a shower at the end of the workday for his or her own "benefit and convenience" would not be paid for that time, DOL has said.
However, time spent putting on and taking off required protective gear (sometimes referred to as "donning and doffing") is often considered compensable work time.
The U.S. Department of Labor offers guidance on compensable working time under federal law, but state and local mandates may go above and beyond. Employers in California, in particular, have faced a number of pre- and post-shift work suits in recent years.