Police Officers Who May Don and Doff At Home Are Not Engaged in FLSA Compensable Work
The Ninth Circuit has held that the donning and doffing of uniforms and accompanying safety gear by police officers is not compensable work under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) if officers may don and doff at home. Thus, any police or sheriff’s department that permits its officers or sheriffs to don and doff their uniforms and gear at home is not legally required to pay for that time.
The City of Mesa required its police officers to wear certain uniforms and related safety gear while on duty, but had no rule, regulation, policy or practice that limited the location of donning and doffing that uniform and gear. Each officer was provided a locker at the station and facilities to don and doff their uniforms and safety gear. Officers testified that they had the option to don and doff at home or work, but that it was preferable to do so at the police station for a variety of reasons, including safety and discomfort.
The FLSA requires employers to compensate employees for activities performed before or after a regular work shift if those activities are an “integral and indispensable” part of the principal activities. Police officers claimed that the time they spent donning and doffing their uniform and gear should be compensable under the FLSA because the uniform and gear directly related to their command presence as law enforcement. The District Court held that these activities were not compensable work under the FLSA because officers had the option and ability to don and doff their uniforms and gear at home. The 9th Circuit affirmed, citing to Abbe v. City of San Diego, 2007 WL 4146696, *7 (S.D. Cal. Nov. 9, 2007), that the relevant inquiry was not whether the uniform or safety gear itself were indispensable to the job, but whether the nature of the work required the donning and doffing process to be done on the employer’s premises. The Court went on to hold that donning and doffing police uniforms and related safety gear at the employer’s premises was not required by law, rule, or the City or by the nature of the police officers’ work, and therefore was not compensable work activities under the FLSA.
For more information about this case or other FLSA matters, contact Eddie Kreisberg at 800.464.3559.