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Alvarez v. IBP, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

April 8, 2003, Argued and Submitted, Seattle, Washington ; August 5, 2003, Filed

No. 02-35042, No. 02-35110

Opinion

 [*897]  THOMAS, Circuit Judge:

 [**2]  Perhaps the packing plant employees in Pasco, Washington, should have heeded Henry David Thoreau's warning to "beware of all enterprises that require new clothes." The central dispute in this class action lawsuit is whether IBP, Inc. ("IBP") should be required to compensate its employees for the time it takes to change into required specialized protective clothing and safety gear. Under the circumstances presented by this case, we conclude that it must. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

From the time that publication of Upton Sinclair's novel The Jungle provoked President  [*898]  Theodore Roosevelt to secure passage of the Meat Inspection Act of 1906, the meat packing industry has been one of the most regulated businesses in the United States. This is not only a product of concerns over food purity. According to the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment at a packing plant is still one of the most dangerous jobs in America, with multiple thousands of workers injured on the job every year. See U.S. Dep't of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Industry Injury and Illness Data (2002), at http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshsum.htm.

IBP, Inc.  [**3]  is the world's largest producer of fresh beef, pork, and related products. Headquartered in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, IBP operates a number of meat processing plants throughout the American West and Midwest. Through meat-related innovation and gradual corporate acquisition, IBP has built a substantial food empire, reaping over $ 13 billion in sales in 1999 alone.

Among IBP's many meat processing facilities is a "kill and processing plant" in Pasco, Washington ("the Pasco plant"). As the moniker suggests, the Pasco plant includes slaughter and processing work sections, both of which play a direct role in the carcass "disassembly process." The disassembly of a beef carcass takes two-to-three days. After the animal is killed, the carcass moves along a series of chains in the slaughter division, eventually coming to rest in a cooled storage facility. After remaining in storage for at least twenty-four but no more than forty-eight hours, the carcass is transported across a group of chains and belts in the processing division, where processing employees cut, trim, and divide the carcass into a variety of pieces.

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339 F.3d 894 *; 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 15622 **; 148 Lab. Cas. (CCH) P34,731; 2003 Cal. Daily Op. Service 6961; 8 Wage & Hour Cas. 2d (BNA) 1601; 2003 Daily Journal DAR 8739

GABRIEL ALVAREZ, individually and as class representative; RANULFO GUTIERREZ, individually and as class representative; PEDRO HERNANDEZ, individually and as class representative; MARIA MARTINEZ; RAMON MORENO; ISMAEL RODRIQUEZ, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. IBP, INC., a Delaware corporation, Defendant-Appellant. GABRIEL ALVAREZ, individually and as class representative; RANULFO GUTIERREZ, individually and as class representative; PEDRO HERNANDEZ, individually and as class representative; MARIA MARTINEZ; RAMON MORENO; ISMAEL RODRIQUEZ, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. IBP, INC., a Delaware corporation, Defendant-Appellee.

Subsequent History: Later proceeding at IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez, 541 U.S. 1028, 124 S. Ct. 2114, 158 L. Ed. 2d 709, 2004 U.S. LEXIS 3240 (2004)

US Supreme Court certiorari granted by, in part, Motion granted by IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez, 125 S. Ct. 1292, 161 L. Ed. 2d 104, 2005 U.S. LEXIS 1451 (U.S., 2005)

Affirmed by Ibp, Inc. v. Alvarez, 2005 U.S. LEXIS 8373 (U.S., Nov. 8, 2005)

Prior History:  [**1]  Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. D.C. No. CV-98-05005-RHW D.C. No. CV-98-05005-RHW. Robert H. Whaley, United States District Judge, Presiding.

Alvarez v. IBP, Inc., 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25344 (E.D. Wash., Sept. 14, 2001)

Disposition: Affirmed in part and reversed in part, remanded.

CORE TERMS

district court, employees, plant, gear, plaintiffs', doffing, clothes, indispensable, exemption, integral, thirty-minute, meal-break, minutes, good faith, agricultural, processing, walking, compliance, workweek, principal activity, time spent, workday, protective equipment, liquidated damages, waiting, terms, minimum wage, provisions, cleaning, per-hour

Business & Corporate Compliance, Labor & Employment Law, Wage & Hour Laws, Wage Payments, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Statutory Application, Portal-to-Portal Act, Scope & Definitions, Overtime & Work Periods, Labor & Employment Law, Defenses, Good Faith Defenses, General Overview, Courts, Rule Application & Interpretation, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Statute of Limitations, Extensions & Revivals, Clearly Erroneous Review, Time Limitations, Remedies, Damages, Liquidated Damages, Administrative Law, Judicial Review, Deference to Agency Statutory Interpretation