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Precision Drilling Corp. v. Tyger

Rodney Tyger and Shawn Wadsworth work in dangerous conditions on gas and oil drilling platforms. To reduce the risk of a range of injuries, including toxic chemical exposure, burns, and injuries from falling objects, both the law and the policies of their employers, Precision Drilling Corp. and related companies, require them to wear a variety of protective gear while performing this work. Their employers, however, do not pay them for the time needed to change into and out of this gear at on-site facilities. Mr. Tyger and Mr. Wadsworth brought a lawsuit against their employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, seeking to recover back wages for that time.

After certifying a collective action, the district court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants, holding that against the employees on the ground that they had not established that the protective gear was designed to protect them from a “transcendent risk” unique to their jobs. The Third Circuit unanimously reversed, holding that whether donning and doffing gear is “integral and indispensable” to an employee’s work, and thus compensable under the FLSA, does not depend on any such risk, but rather should be assessed based on the totality of circumstances, with particular attention paid to the location where the workers change, any regulations regarding the gear at issue, and the type of gear at issue. The court of appeals remanded the case to the district court for trial.

Precision Drilling filed a petition for certiorari in the Supreme Court. Serving as co-counsel for the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court, we prepared the brief in opposition to the petition. The brief explains that the courts of appeals, in the few donning and doffing cases considered in recent years, have all considered factors similar to those identified by the Third Circuit and that the Third Circuit’s multi-factor test is consistent with Supreme Court case law interpreting the FLSA. The Supreme Court denied review.