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Dale B. Adams, et al v. Alcoa

September 27, 2011

DALE B. ADAMS, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ALCOA, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: George H. Lowe, United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER*fn1

In this action brought pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., a conditionally certified class of aluminum factory workers contends that Defendant Alcoa Inc. ("Alcoa") failed to compensate them for the time they spent (1) arriving early for shift relief; (2) donning and doffing protective gear on Alcoa's premises; (3) walking from the locker room to the work site; and (4) showering at the end of shifts. (Dkt. No. 42.) Currently pending before the Court is Alcoa's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.

(Dkt. No. 100.) Plaintiffs have opposed the motion. (Dkt. No 106.) Alcoa has filed a reply. (Dkt. Nos. 110-111.) For the reasons that follow, Alcoa's motion is granted.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL SUMMARY

Defendant Alcoa owns and operates an aluminum smelting facility located in Massena, New York, commonly referred to as "Massena West." (Dkt. No. 100-2 ¶ 1; Dkt. No. 106-1 at 2 ¶ 1.) Massena West opened in 1902 and is the oldest continuously operating aluminum facility in the world. Id.

Massena West is divided into various sections that handle different stages of the aluminum production process. The sections at issue in this case are the potroom and the ingot department. In the potroom, smelting potlines reduce certain materials to create molten aluminum. (Dkt. No. 100-2 ¶ 2; Dkt. No. 106-1 at 2 ¶ 2.) That molten aluminum is then transferred to the ingot department (also referred to as the "casthouse"), where it is mixed with other elements to create alloys that are cast into round ingots, which can then be fabricated into various materials and product components. Id.

Some employees in the potroom and ingot departments perform certain tasks that require them to be close to molten metal. (Dkt. No. 100-2 ¶ 3; Dkt. No. 106-1 at 3 ¶ 3.) Such exposure carries with it a potential for accidents that might lead to injuries.*fn2 In order to reduce the risk of injury in the event of an accident in the work area, Alcoa requires employees to wear certain items of Alcoa-provided personal protective equipment ("PPE"). (Dkt. No. 100-2 ¶ 4; Dkt. No. 106-1 at 3 ¶ 4.) In the potroom and the ingot department, employees are always required to wear flame retardant ("FR") shirts and pants, metatarsal (or steel-toed) boots, spats, hard hats with snoods that cover the back of the neck, and safety glasses. (Rombough Aff., Dkt. No. 100-13 ¶ 6; Adey Aff., Dkt. No. 100-25 ¶ 6.) When performing certain tasks, employees are also required to wear ear plugs*fn3 , gloves, FR jackets, dust masks*fn4 , and face shields. Id. ¶ 7. Employees put on these additional items during the course of their paid shifts. Id.

Potroom employees are given eleven FR shirts and nine pairs of FR pants. (Rombough Aff., Dkt. No. 100-13 ¶ 10.) Ingot department employees are given between seven and eleven sets of FR clothing. (Adey Aff. ¶ 11.) Alcoa prohibits employees from laundering their FR clothing at home, but does not prohibit employees from keeping fresh FR clothing at home. (Rombough Aff., Dkt. No. 100-13 ¶ 10; Adey Aff., Dkt. No. 100-25 ¶ 11.) Employees may thus put on ("don") and take off ("doff") their FR clothing at home. In practice, most employees choose to don and doff the FR clothing in a locker room at Massena West, either out of convenience because the FR clothing must be laundered at Massena West (Boyer Decl. ¶ 9; Hall Decl. ¶ 9; Bregg Decl. ¶ 9; Gollinger Decl. ¶ 9; Debien Decl. ¶ 9) or due to concerns about exposing family members to the "dirt and dust on the FR clothing, which is contaminated with hazardous chemicals and other substances." (Bacon Decl. ¶ 9.)

Plaintiffs are Alcoa employees who worked in the potroom and/or ingot department at Massena West between September 15, 2007, and September 15, 2010.*fn5 (Dkt. No. 100-2 ¶ 5; Dkt. No. 106-1 at 3 ¶ 5.) Plaintiffs seek compensation under the FLSA for (1) time spent arriving early for shift relief; (2) time spent donning and doffing protective gear on Alcoa's premises; (3) time spent walking from the locker room to the work site; and (4) time spent showering at the end of shifts. (Dkt. No. 42.)

After the parties consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge (Dkt. No. 76), I entered an order setting a special briefing and discovery schedule for Alcoa's motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 78.) Pursuant to the order, Alcoa filed its motion for summary judgment on November 15, 2010. (Dkt. No. 100.) Thereafter, Plaintiffs had until December 3, 2010, to serve additional discovery requests on Alcoa and until January 28, 2011, to complete that additional discovery. (Dkt. No. 78 at 3.) Plaintiffs filed their opposition to the motion for summary judgment on February 17, 2011. (Dkt. No. 106.) Thereafter, Alcoa had until March 2, 2011, to serve additional discovery requests on Plaintiffs and until April 22, 2011, to complete the additional discovery. (Dkt. No. 78 at 3.) Alcoa filed its reply papers on May 6, 2011. (Dkt. Nos. 110-11.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD GOVERNING MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment is warranted "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of showing, through the production of admissible evidence, that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Salahuddin v. Goord, 467 F.3d 263, 272-73 (2d Cir. 2006). Only after the moving party has met this burden is the nonmoving party required to produce evidence demonstrating that genuine issues of material fact exist. Salahuddin, 467 F.3d at 272-73. The nonmoving party must do more than "rest upon the mere allegations . . . of the [plaintiff's] pleading" or "simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 585-86 (1986). Rather, a dispute regarding a material fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In determining whether a genuine issue of material*fn6 fact exists, the Court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences against the moving party. Major League Baseball Props., Inc. v. Salvino, 542 F.3d 290, 309 (2d Cir. 2008).

III. ANALYSIS

Plaintiffs' claims arise under the FLSA. (Dkt. No. 42.) The FLSA "guarantee[s] compensation for all work or employment engaged in by employees covered by the Act." Tennessee Coal, Iron & R. Co. v. Muscoda Local No. 123, 321 U.S. 590, 602-603 (1944). The operative complaint alleges that arriving early for shifts, donning and doffing the PPE, showering after shifts, and walking between the locker room and the potroom or ingot department constitute compensable work under the FLSA. (Dkt. No. 42 ΒΆ ...


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