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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Paid to Get Dressed?

Published December 7, 2011 4:44 PM by Lisa Brzezicki
Early last month two nurses at Aurora Medical Center filed a class action lawsuit against the Colorado facility's parent company, HealthOne of Denver, over the time it takes them to put on and take off their scrubs. They want to get paid to dress.

The nurses are required to wear scrubs while on the job, but the hospital's policy states those scrubs are not allowed to leave the hospital. The process to dress and undress, which includes locating their correct size, could add 15 minutes to their shift.

In their claim, the nurses said it became a problem when they were written up specifically for attempting to clock in before they changed and for being late to their unit as a result of the scrub change.

According to the blog Law & Daily Life, there have been a number of lawsuits under the Fair Labor Standards Act where employees have sought compensation for the time it takes to change into their uniform. One recent case involved employees at a poultry processing plant who are required to put on and take off safety apparel at the beginning and end of their day's work because it cannot leave the premises.

The court ruled in favor of the employees stating they must be paid for the 17 minutes it takes them to dress and undress during the day because the company provides the gear, which is "integral and indispensable" to the job.

Could the nurses at Aurora Medical Center make the same argument? They are, after all, required to wear the hospital-provided scrubs.

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