Arkansas’s Supreme Court has cited a state-level labor law in a ruling that sets Arkansas's standards as more strict than federal ones.
The court ruled Thursday that Gerber Products Co. should pay workers for time spent changing into uniforms and protective gear, even though their union had bargained away compensation for the activity.
Theresa Beiner, a professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Bowen School of Law, says exemptions in federal law allow unions to make such concessions.
"They basically said that there is no such exemption under the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act. That you can't collectively bargain away this compensable time if indeed it is required by your job," she said.
The baby food producer must now pay workers more than $3 million for their time spent dressing and undressing for work.