IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez

PETITIONER: IBP, Inc.
RESPONDENT: Gabriel Alvarez, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, et al.
LOCATION: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

DOCKET NO.: 03-1238
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2005-2006)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 546 US 21 (2005)
GRANTED: Feb 22, 2005
ARGUED: Oct 03, 2005
DECIDED: Nov 08, 2005

ADVOCATES:
Carter G. Phillips - argued the cause for Petitioner in 03-1238 and respondent in 04-66
Irving L. Gornstein - argued the cause for Respondents in 03-1238 and petitioners in 04-66
Thomas C. Goldstein - argued the cause for Respondents in 03-1238 and petitioners in 04-66

Facts of the case

In two separate cases, employees sued Barber Foods and IBP in federal district court. The employees alleged the companies violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by not paying them for time spent walking to the worksite after putting on required equipment. The district court and later the First Circuit ruled against the Barber employees. A separate district court ruled IBP must compensate its employees for the disputed time. The Ninth Circuit agreed. The U.S. Supreme Court consolidated the cases.

Question

Did the Fair Labor Standards Act require employers to pay employees for time spent walking to and from stations that distributed required safety equipment?

Media for IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 03, 2005 in IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - November 08, 2005 in IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

Justice Stevens has the opinion in No. 03-1238, IBP versus Alvarez, and No. 04-66, Tum versus Barber Foods.

John Paul Stevens:

These cases are consolidated, and they come to us, respectively, from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.

Employees at the food-processing plants involved in the cases are required to wear certain protective gear supplied by their employers while they are working on the assembly line.

The cases require us to decide whether the time spent walking to the assembly line from the place where they donned their protective gear and the time spent waiting to don that gear are part of the workday that is compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended by the Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947.

For reasons stated in a remarkably interesting, 20-page opinion filed with the Clerk, we conclude that the post-donning walking time is compensable, but the pre-donning waiting time is not.

Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, and we affirm in part and reverse in part the judgment at the Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit.

Our opinion is unanimous.