The Federal Court of Minnesota has ordered that the lawsuit which was filed on behalf of the workers of Kerry Ingredients, proceed as a class action suit and authorized notices to be mailed to Kerry employees who worked in production, maintenance, and sanitation jobs any time on or after Feb. 1, 2003, in Albert Lea, Minn., Covington, Ohio, Fredericksburg, Iowa, and Beloit, Jackson, Owen and Vesper, Wis.
Plaintiffs seek to recover all compensation for donning and doffing including overtime pay. In addition, plaintiffs are seeking double damages, interest, costs of the suit and attorneys’ fees.
“The time it takes to put on and take off protective gear adds up. Over a couple of years, it could be worth several thousand dollars to a Kerry worker,” according to Bill Gengler, of the Minneapolis law firm of Lockridge Grindal Nauen P.L.L.P.
Senior Counsel for Kerry Americas Suzanne Kiwaiko said Kerry is aware of the lawsuit and denies that it has violated the law in any way.
“…This lawsuit does not pertain to allegations that Kerry has improperly denied pay for time spent putting on and taking off protective equipment. Kerry vigorously contends that it is not obligated to pay for uniform changing time at the union plants because nonpayment is a past custom and practice of Kerry and the unions that, under the law, exempts Kerry from having to pay for this time, and at the nonunion plants, time spent changing into and out of uniforms is so inconsequential that under the law, Kerry is not obligated to count it as working time,” Kiwaiko said.