Indiana Packers Unpaid Overtime Lawsuit

The lawsuit alleges workers were not paid for “donning and doffing” their required work clothes.

Indiana Packers Class Action Lawsuit

The lawyers at Johnson//Becker are pursuing litigation against Indiana Packers for uncompensated work and overtime.

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An Indiana man says his former employer deprived him of his employment rights and repeatedly failed to pay him overtime wages.

Plaintiff Tremaine Rhines of Lafayette, Indiana, filed a class action lawsuit against the Indiana Packers company in late August, alleging the company owes him wages and overtime pay for time he worked without compensation.

His responsibilities as an associate producer were to “skin, trim, cut, debone, process, package, and box meat products.” This work was physically demanding and potentially dangerous. On its jobs website, Indiana Packers says producers will “receive competitive wages and be eligible to participate in one of the most innovative benefit plans around.”

That’s one way to put it. According to the lawsuit, employees were expected to perform a routine part of it free of charge.

The complaint alleges workers in production roles were forced to put on protective equipment and prepare tools, after first waiting in line. These mandatory activities went unpaid, as did the time period to remove the equipment and return tools when his day was done. Rhines was similarly required to remove his protective clothing and return equipment before and after meal breaks.

This process, commonly known as “donning and doffing,” is frequently cited as a violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) when the process goes unpaid.

Over time, the unpaid donning and doffing process adds up to many hours of work, all of it off the clock. Rhines worked on the processing floor for a span of eight months, during which he would have routinely surpassed a 40-hour workweek if given credit for donning and doffing.

Rhines and other producers should have received time-and-a-half pay for that overtime. Instead, they got nothing.

That should have resulted in overtime pay under FLSA rules, but the donning and doffing policies of Indiana Packers blocked Rhines and other similarly affected workers at the processing plant from receiving the money owed to them. The complaint states Indiana Packers employs more than 2,000 employees at the Delphia, Indiana facility where Rhines worked; the company also operates another packing plant in Indiana, plus one each in Michigan and Kentucky.

The class action case is filed on behalf of “current and former Associate Production employees, and/or other job titles performing the same or similar duties” who worked for the company in the past three years. The complaint estimates this group would include hundreds of workers.

The lawsuit calls these current or former workers at Indiana Packers “victims of a uniform and company-wide enterprise which operates to compensate employees at a rate less than the federally mandated overtime wage rate.” Even in weeks when they did not reach 40 hours, Indiana Packers employee are not paid for at least some amount of time performing necessary duties.

Indiana Packers was “unjustly enriched at the expense” of Rhines and its other employees past and present, the complaint alleges, and should make those employees whole by justly rewarding them for their time.

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If you work or worked as a production employee for Indiana Packers, you may be eligible for compensation.

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