The Supreme Court has opted to consider an appeal of a 7th Circuit Court decision that donning and doffing personal protective equipment (PPE) is not a "principal activity" that triggers the start of the workday, and time so spent thus does not have to be compensated.

The case, Sandifer, et al. v. U.S. Steel Corp., will be argued during the term beginning in October 2013.

The union representing plaintiff Clifton Sandier agrees with U.S. Steel that time changing work clothes is not compensable under section 203(o) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), but the union, Sandifer and the other plaintiffs argue that PPE is different and should trigger compensable time at work.

"Protection – against sun, cold, wind, blisters, stains, insect bites, and being spotted by animals that one is hunting – is a common function of clothing, and an especially common funding of work clothes worn by factory workers. It would be absurd to exclude all work clothes that have a protective function from 203(o), and thus limit the exclusion largely to actors' costumes and waiters' and doormen's uniforms," the appeals court held.