PETALUMA, Calif. – The labor-based argument over the compensability meat and poultry plant workers required to put on and take off protective gear continues to be a point of contingency in court rooms. Most recently, a lawsuit seeking class-action status has been filed with the Superior Court of California in Sonoma County alleges Petaluma Poultry did not pay current and former workers over the past four years for time spent donning and doffing protective gear before and after their shifts in addition to failing to pay them overtime as well as not granting them meal breaks as required by law.

The suit, filed June 9, 2017, by David Yeremian & Associates Inc. on behalf of his client, Angelica Gutierrez, also named Salisbury, Maryland-based Perdue Foods LLC and Coleman Natural Foods LLC as defendants in the case, which seeks unpaid compensation, penalties, damages and attorneys’ fees.  

“Under California law, time spent by employees putting on and taking off protective gear and other clothing required for their jobs on work premises must be compensated by their employers,” said David Yeremian, whose firm specialize in employment law.

According to court papers, the plaintiff (or plaintiffs) is demanding a jury trial and the attorney has requested class-action status.

Court records state the plaintiff seeks to represent “individuals employed by defendants as non-exempt employees within the State of California at any time within four (4) years of the filing of this lawsuit to the present. The suit could include dozens of Petaluma Poultry workers if a class action is approved by the court.”