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Should Nurses Be Paid to Put On Scrubs?

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on November 14, 2011 5:43 AM

It takes approximately 15 minutes for a nurse to change into and out of her scrubs. Or so says a lawsuit filed by Natalie Fiore and Lisa Stransky, nurses at Colorado's Aurora Medical Center.

The nurses' scrub lawsuit argues that the hospital's nurses should be paid for changing their clothes. Employees are required to wear the hospital's scrubs, but are not allowed to take them home.

Instead, they must show up 15 minutes early and locate the proper sized scrubs. Once they change, they can clock in and start working.

The nurses' scrub lawsuit is actually not unique. 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 uniform.

In fact, the 4th Circuit weighed in on such a case earlier this year. Employees at a poultry processing plant had to "don and doff" their safety apparel at the beginning and end of each day. That apparel was provided by the company and could not leave the premises.

They spent 17 minutes "donning and doffing" during the day.

The court found the employees must be paid for that time, as putting on the gear was "integral and indispensable" to the job.

The nurses may be able to make the same argument, as they are required to wear hospital-provided scrubs. Because they cannot take the scrubs with them, the hospital may have made the donning of scrubs an integral and indispensable part of their job.

Lest you still think the nurses' scrub lawsuit is frivolous, consider how much money they are losing. If they work 5 days a week for an entire year, they spend a grand total of 65 hours changing clothes.

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