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U.S. court revives lawsuit by Pa. workers who claim DuPont Co. owes them overtime pay

A class-action lawsuit against E.I. DuPont Co. filed by workers at a Pennsylvania plant who claim they are being stiffed on overtime pay has been revived by a federal appeals court.

The recent precedential ruling by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit overturns a decision by U.S. Middle District Judge James M. Munley.

Munley dismissed the workers’ suit in 2014 after finding DuPont was adequately compensating the employees at its Towanda manufacturing facility in Bradford County by paying them for lunch breaks even though it wasn’t obligated by law to do so.

The workers claim DuPont should be paying them overtime for the time they spend before and after their 12-hour shifts donning and removing their uniforms and protective gear and briefing workers on incoming shifts. Those pre- and post-shift tasks take 30 minutes to an hour per shift, they contend. DuPont requires them to be on-site to suit up for work before their shifts start.

In the appeals court’s opinion, Judge Marjorie O. Rendell concluded Munley was wrong in finding DuPont could substitute the meal break pay for overtime compensation. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act and other regulations “compel the opposite result,” she wrote.

The appeals judges sent the case back to Munley’s court for further action.

The Towanda plant makes X-ray screens and coated films for DuPont. More than 160 workers there opted to participate in the class-action suit, Rendell noted.

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