Ibp, Inc. v. Alvarez

Decision Date08 November 2005
Docket NumberNo. 03-1238.,03-1238.
Citation163 L. Ed. 2d 288,126 S. Ct. 514,546 U.S. 21
PartiesIBP, INC. <I>v.</I> ALVAREZ, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, ET AL.
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

After this Court ruled that the term "workweek" in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) included the time employees spent walking from time clocks near a factory entrance to their workstations, Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., 328 U.S. 680, 691-692, Congress passed the Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947, which, inter alia, excepted from FLSA coverage walking on the employer's premises to and from the location of the employee's "principal activity or activities," § 4(a)(1), and activities that are "preliminary or postliminary" to "said principal activity or activities," § 4(a)(2). The Act did not otherwise change this Court's descriptions of "work" and "workweek" or define "workday." Regulations promulgated by the Secretary of Labor shortly thereafter concluded that the Act did not affect the computation of hours within a "workday," 29 CFR § 790.6(a), which includes "the period between the commencement and completion" of the "principal activity or activities," § 790.6(b). Eight years after the enactment of the Portal-to-Portal Act and these interpretative regulations, the Court explained that the "term `principal activity or activities' . . . embraces all activities which are `an integral and indispensable part of the principal activities,'" including the donning and doffing of specialized protective gear "before or after the regular work shift, on or off the production line." Steiner v. Mitchell, 350 U.S. 247, 256.

In No. 03-1238, respondent employees filed a class action seeking compensation for time spent donning and doffing required protective gear and walking from the locker rooms to the production floor of a meat processing facility owned by petitioner IBP, Inc. (IBP), and back. The District Court found the activities compensable, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed. In No. 04-66, petitioner employees sought compensation for time spent donning and doffing required protective gear at a poultry processing plant operated by respondent Barber Foods, Inc. (Barber) as well as the attendant walking and waiting times. Barber prevailed on the walking and waiting claims. On appeal, the First Circuit found those times' preliminary and postliminary activities excluded from FLSA coverage by §§ 4(a)(1) and (2) of the Portal-to-Portal Act.

Held:

1. The time respondents in No. 03-1238 spend walking between changing and production areas is compensable under the FLSA. Pp. 30-37.

(a) Section 4(a)(1)'s text does not exclude such time from the FLSA's scope. IBP claims that, because donning is not the "principal activity" that starts the workday, walking occurring immediately after donning and immediately before doffing is not compensable. That argument, which in effect asks for a third category of activities—those that are "integral and indispensable" to a "principal activity" and thus not excluded from coverage by § 4(a)(2), but are not themselves "principal activities" as defined by § 4(a)(1)—is foreclosed by Steiner, which made clear that § 4 does not remove activities that are "integral and indispensable" to "principal activities" from FLSA coverage precisely because such activities are themselves "principal activities." 350 U.S., at 253. There is no plausible argument that these terms mean different things in § 4(a)(2) and in § 4(a)(1). Under the normal rule of statutory interpretation, identical words used in different parts of the same statute are generally presumed to have the same meaning; and in § 4(a)(2)'s reference to "said principal activity or activities," "said" is an explicit reference to the use of the identical term in § 4(a)(1). Pp. 33-34.

(b) Also unpersuasive is IBP's argument that Congress' repudiation of the Anderson holding reflects a purpose to exclude the walking time at issue. That time, which occurs after the workday begins and before it ends, is more comparable to time spent walking between two different positions on an assembly line than to the walking in Anderson, which occurred before the workday began. Pp. 34-35.

(c) The relevant regulations also support this view of walking. Contrary to IBP's claim, 29 CFR § 790.6 does not strictly define the workday's limits as the period from "whistle to whistle." And § 790.7(g), n. 49, which provides that postdonning walking time is not "necessarily" excluded from § 4(a)(1)'s scope, does not mean that such time is always excluded and is insufficient to overcome clear statements in the regulations' text that support the holding here. Pp. 35-37.

2. Because donning and doffing gear that is "integral and indispensable" to employees' work is a "principal activity" under the statute, the continuous workday rule mandates that the time the No. 04-66 petitioners spend walking to and from the production floor after donning and before doffing, as well as the time spent waiting to doff, are not affected by the Portal-to-Portal Act, and are instead covered by the FLSA. Pp. 37-40.

3. However, § 4(a)(2) excludes from the FLSA's scope the time employees spend waiting to don the first piece of gear that marks the beginning of the continuous workday. Such waiting—which is two steps removed from the productive activity on the assembly line—comfortably qualifies as a "preliminary" activity. The fact that certain preshift activities are necessary for employees to engage in their principal activities does not mean that those preshift activities are "integral and indispensable" to a "principal activity" under Steiner. No limiting principle allows this Court to conclude that the waiting time here is such an activity without also leading to the logical (but untenable) conclusion that the walking time in Anderson would also be a "principal activity" unaffected by the Portal-to-Portal Act. Title 29 CFR § 790.7(h) does not support a contrary view. Pp. 40-42.

No. 03-1238, 339 F.3d 894, affirmed; No. 04-66, 360 F.3d 274, affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT.

Carter G. Phillips argued the cause for petitioner in No. 03-1238 and for respondent in No. 04-66. With him on the briefs in No. 03-1238 were Joseph R. Guerra, Rebecca K. Wood, Michael J. Mueller, and Joel M. Cohn. On the brief in No. 04-66 was Graydon G. Stevens.

Thomas C. Goldstein argued the cause for petitioners in No. 04-66 and for respondents in No. 03-1238. With him on the briefs in No. 04-66 were Amy Howe, Kevin K. Russell, Pamela S. Karlan, Timothy B. Fleming, Lori B. Kisch, and William C. Nugent. On the brief in No. 03-1238 were David N. Mark, William Rutzick, and Kathryn Goater.

Irving L. Gornstein argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae supporting respondents in No. 03-1238 and petitioners in No. 04-66. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Clement, Deputy Solicitor General Hungar, Howard M. Radzely, Allen H. Feldman, Steven J. Mandel, and Michael P. Doyle.

JUSTICE STEVENS delivered the opinion of the Court.

These consolidated cases raise questions concerning the coverage of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), as amended by the Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947, with respect to activities of employees who must don protective clothing on the employer's premises before they engage in the productive labor for which they are primarily hired. The principal question, which is presented in both cases, is whether the time employees spend walking between the changing area and the production area is compensable under the FLSA. The second question, which is presented only in No. 04-66, is whether the time employees spend waiting to put on the protective gear is compensable under the statute. In No. 03-1238, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit answered "yes" to the first question, 339 F.3d 894 (2003); in No. 04-66, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit answered "no" to both questions, 360 F.3d 274, 281 (2004). We granted certiorari to resolve the conflict. 543 U.S. 1144 (2005).

I

As enacted in 1938, the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., required employers engaged in the production of goods for commerce to pay their employees a minimum wage of "not less than 25 cents an hour," § 6(a)(1), 52 Stat. 1062, and prohibited the employment of any person for workweeks in excess of 40 hours after the second year following the legislation "unless such employee receives compensation for his employment in excess of [40] hours . . . at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which he is employed," id., § 7(a)(3), at 1063. Neither "work" nor "workweek" is defined in the statute.1

Our early cases defined those terms broadly. In Tennessee Coal, Iron & R. Co. v. Muscoda Local No. 123, 321 U.S. 590 (1944), we held that time spent traveling from iron ore mine portals to underground working areas was compensable; relying on the remedial purposes of the statute and Webster's Dictionary, we described "work or employment" as "physical or mental exertion (whether burdensome or not) controlled or required by the employer and pursued necessarily and primarily for the benefit of the employer and his business." Id., at 598; see id., at 598, n. 11. The same year, in Armour & Co. v. Wantock, 323 U.S. 126 (1944), we clarified that "exertion" was not in fact necessary for an activity to constitute "work" under the FLSA. We pointed out that "an employer, if he chooses, may hire a man to do nothing, or to do nothing but wait for something to happen." Id., at 133. Two years later, in Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., 328 U.S. 680 (1946), we defined "the statutory workweek" to "includ[e] all time during which an employee is necessarily required to be on the employer's premises, on duty or at a prescribed...

To continue reading

Request your trial
603 cases
  • Marshall v. Amsted Rail Co.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Illinois
    • September 20, 2011
    ...received compensation “at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate” he received. IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez, 546 U.S. 21, 25, 126 S.Ct. 514, 163 L.Ed.2d 288 (2005). The statute itself did not define “work” or “workweek,” but early United States Supreme Court cases defined the ......
  • Anderson v. Perdue Farms, Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Alabama
    • March 10, 2009
    ...by the employer and pursued necessarily and primarily for the benefit of the employer and his business." IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez, 546 U.S. 21, 25, 126 S.Ct. 514, 163 L.Ed.2d 288 (2005). Whether time is spent predominantly for the employer's benefit or for the employees' depends on the circumst......
  • Senne v. Kan. City Royals Baseball Corp.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of California
    • July 21, 2016
    ...the broad interpretation of the term "work" under the FLSA. Id. at 37-38 (citing 29 C.F.R. §§ 785.7, 785.12, 785.38; IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez, 546 U.S. 21, 25 (2005); Lindow v. United States, 738 F.2d 1057, 1062-63 (9th Cir. 1984)). Plaintiffs argue that "[t]his is a classic classwide issue bec......
  • Delima v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., Civil No. 06-328-JE.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Oregon
    • April 23, 2008
    ...violation without "knowingly" violating the statute. Alvarez v. IBP, Inc., 339 F.3d 894, 908-09 (9th Cir.2003), aff'd, 546 U.S. 21, 126 S.Ct. 514, 163 L.Ed.2d 288 (2005). Instead, the three-year statute of limitations applies if the employer "disregarded the very `possibility' that it was v......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 firm's commentaries
  • West Virginia DOL Withdraws Proposed Emergency Wage And Hour Regulations
    • United States
    • Mondaq United States
    • January 2, 2015
    ...2 See Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, -- U.S. --, 2014 U.S. LEXIS 8293, at *9-10 (Dec. 9, 2014) (citing IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez, 546 U.S. 21, 29-30 3 See W. Va. Code Ann. § 21-5C-1(h) ("[I]n determining . . . the hours for which an employee is employed, there shall be excluded any ......
  • California Supreme Court limits employers’ use of the de minimis doctrine as defense in Starbucks’ decision
    • United States
    • LexBlog United States
    • July 28, 2018
    ...Co., 328 U.S. 680, 692, 66 S.Ct. 1187, 90 L.Ed. 1515 (1946), superseded by statute on other grounds as stated in IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez, 546 U.S. 21, 25–26, 126 S.Ct. 514, 163 L.Ed.2d 288 (2005). The California Supreme Court explained the concept as follows: The de minimis doctrine is an appl......
  • The Developing Law On Compensability Of Time Spent Undergoing Security Screening
    • United States
    • Mondaq United States
    • March 13, 2014
    ...to present facts to oppose class certification and prove defenses on the merits. Footnotes 134 S. Ct. 870 (2014). 29 U.S.C. § 254(a). 546 U.S. 21 350 U.S. 247 (1956). 488 F.3d 586, 589, 591 (2d Cir. 2007). 487 F.3d 1340 (11th Cir. 2007). 713 F.3d 525 (9th Cir. 2013). Id. at 530-531. The con......
26 books & journal articles
  • Wages, Hours, and Overtime
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Archive Texas Employment Law. Volume 1 - 2014 Part III. Employee compensation, safety and benefits
    • August 16, 2014
    ...at which [the employee] ceases, such principal activity or activities. The Supreme Court construed this statute in IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez , 546 U.S. 21 (2005), a case that involved pay disputes from two plants—one that processed beef and pork, the other that processed chicken. The beef and po......
  • Wages, Hours, and Overtime
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Archive Texas Employment Law. Volume 1 - 2017 Part III. Employee compensation, safety and benefits
    • August 9, 2017
    ...at which [the employee] ceases, such principal activity or activities. The Supreme Court construed this statute in IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez , 546 U.S. 21 (2005), a case that involved pay disputes from two plants—one that processed beef and pork, the other that processed chicken. The beef and po......
  • Wages, hours, and overtime
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Texas Employment Law. Volume 1 Part III. Employee compensation, safety and benefits
    • May 5, 2018
    ...at which [the employee] ceases, such principal activity or activities. The Supreme Court construed this statute in IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez , 546 U.S. 21 (2005), a case that involved pay disputes from two plants—one that processed beef and pork, the other that processed chicken. The beef and po......
  • Deposing & examining the plaintiff
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Deposing & Examining Employment Witnesses
    • March 31, 2022
    ...Flores v. City of San Gabriel, 824 F.3d 890, 906 (9th Cir. 2016); Alvarez v. IBP, Inc., 339 F.3d 894, 908-09 (9th Cir. 2003), aff’d, 546 U.S. 21, 126 (2005). If the jury finds a willful violation, then an EPA plaintiff can recover damages to compensate her for the denial of equal pay going ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT