U.S. Supreme Court

Case Status


Docket Number



2013 Term

Oral Argument Date

November 04, 2013


Questions Presented

What constitutes “changing clothes” within the meaning of section 203(o)?

Case Updates

Supreme Court affirms Seventh Circuit FLSA decision

January 27, 2014

The time petitioners spend donning and doffing their protective gear is not compensable by operation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U. S. C. §203(o).

U.S. Chamber urges Supreme Court to uphold Seventh Circuit decision; reject argument that “protective clothing” is not "clothes” under plain meaning of the FLSA

July 26, 2013

At issue in this case is § 203(o) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In enacting that statute, Congress provided that the employees and their employers may collectively bargain to determine when and whether the time spent changing clothes and washing at the beginning and end of each workday should be deemed compensable work time under the FLSA. That is exactly what the employees and U.S. Steel did in this case. Petitioners, a group of those employees, now seek to undo that deal by arguing that protective clothing should not be considered clothing at all for the purposes of the statute.

The Chamber urged the Supreme Court to uphold the decision of the Seventh Circuit, which rejected the petitioners' argument and held that section 203(o) of the FLSA is not an exemption from the FLSA and that protective clothing plainly constitutes “changing clothes” within the meaning of the statute. The Chamber argued that the petitioner's argument that section 203(o) should be narrowly construed because the statute purportedly favors employers is completely misguided. The Chamber pointed out that the goal of 203(o) is “to give sanctity once again to the collective-bargaining agreements.” This statutory provision is not one favoring the employer but one empowering the union to engage in collective bargaining, at its discretion, on the time spend changing clothes and/or washing at the beginning and end of the work day. The Chamber also argued that the Department of Labor's current interpretation of section 203(o) is owed no deference in this context.

Case Documents