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Employees must be paid if they are required to attend meetings

Shell Oil Company and Motiva Enterprises, LLC, are going to have to pay nearly $4.5 million dollars to more than 2,600 employees because the companies didn’t pay employees who attended meetings the companies required the employees to attend. (Motiva is partially owned by Shell.)

The companies required refinery workers to come to meetings before the start of their 12-hour shifts, but never paid the employees for attending the meetings. When the time spent in meetings was added to their “regular” work hours, employees worked over 40 hours in a week and thereby became eligible for overtime (time and a half) pay. In addition, the companies did not keep accurate time records. The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor investigated practices of Shell and Motiva refineries located in Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, California, and Washington.

In addition to paying the monetary penalties found in the settlement agreement, Shell and Motiva must train managers, payroll personnel, and human resources personnel on the FLSA’s requirements.

What does this mean for employers?

A number of so-called pre- and post-shift activities may trigger having to pay overtime. Employers need to carefully verify which ones are compensable and which are non-compensable. In general, any activity—donning, walking, waiting, and doffing—that an employer requires the employee to do as part of his or her workday is going to be compensable.

For example, a Houston manufacturing facility recently had to pay $199,443 in back wages to 342 assemblers, material handlers, and production technicians because of violation of the FLSA and its record-keeping requirements.

The facility failed to pay workers for time spent donning, doffing, and sanitizing personal protective equipment employees were required to wear. As part of their settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor, the facility is moving its time clock next to employee lockers and requiring employees to clock in before they don personal protective equipment and clock out after they doff the equipment.

Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court has just heard oral arguments in a case involving Amazon employees having to wait while security checks are done at the end of their shifts. In their lawsuit against Amazon, the employees maintain they should be paid for the wait while the security checks are made. See Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Jesse Busk.

Items on this web page are general in nature. They cannot—and should not—replace consultation with a competent legal professional. Nothing on this web page should be considered rendering legal advice.

© 2016

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