[ Stevens ]
The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.
See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U.S. 321, 337.
IBP, INC. v. ALVAREZ, individually
behalf of all others similarly
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
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,
691692, Congress passed the Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947,
which, inter alia, excepted from FLSA coverage walking
on the employers premises to and from the location of the
employees 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 Courts 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,
In No. 031238, 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. 0466, 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.
1. The time respondents in No. 031238 spend walking between changing and production areas is compensable under the FLSA. Pp. 715.
(a) Sectio n 4(a)(1)s text does not exclude such time from the FLSAs 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 activitiesthose 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. 1012.
(b) Also unpersuasive is IBPs 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. 1213.
(c) The relevant regulations also support this view of walking. Contrary to IBPs claim, 29 CFR § 790.6 does not strictly define the workdays 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. 1315.
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. 0466 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. 1517.
3. However, §4(a)(2) excludes from the FLSAs scope the time employees spend waiting to don the first piece of gear that marks the beginning of the continuous workday. Such waitingwhich is two steps removed from the productive activity on the assembly linecomfortably 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. 1719.
No. 031238, 339 F.3d 894, affirmed; No. 0466, 360 F.3d 274, affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
Stevens, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
*. Together with No. 0466, Tum et al. v. Barber Foods, Inc., dba Barber Foods, on certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.