Smithfield unit to pay $5.8 million to settle donning-doffing case

Smithfield’s Farmland Foods has agreed to shell out about $5.8 million to settle a lawsuit filed by workers alleging that the company violated state and federal laws by not paying them for time spent putting on and taking off work-related clothing, according to court documents filed in federal court on Friday.

The class-action suit, filed in 2010,  applies to all current or former hourly-paid cut, kill, maintenance and shipping employees who work or worked at that Farmland pork processing plant at any time between April 29, 2008, and April 30, 2013.

The lawsuit alleges Farmland employees were not paid for the time the employees spend putting on and taking off gear and equipment, sanitizing, walking to and from the production floor, and other off-the-clock work activities. The employees contended that they work off-the-clock, both pre- and post-shift and during meal breaks. The suit asked for damages from Farmland for the alleged unpaid overtime wages, liquidated damages and other applicable penalties, and attorneys’ fees and expenses.

Under the settlement agreement, Farmland will make available for claims to the settlement class $4.25 million and pay another $1.5 million to cover the other side’s legal fees.

Farmland has argued that it paid its employees all compensation it owed to them and that it has complied with federal and state law. Farmland denies any liability or wrongdoing of any kind.

19 August 2013