Thank you to everyone who helped contribute to this investigation. Unfortunately, at this point, attorneys working with ClassAction.org have decided to close their investigation into this matter. If you have questions regarding your rights, please reach out to an attorney in your area. Most offer free consultations.
The information below was posted when the investigation began and exists for reference only. Our open list of investigations can be found here.
At A Glance
This Alert Affects:
Park rangers who weren't paid for time spent donning and doffing their uniforms.
What's Going On?
Attorneys are talking with park rangers about how they're being paid. They have reason to believe some park rangers are getting cheated out of proper pay and want to file class action lawsuits to help these workers get their money back.
If you work or have worked as a park ranger and weren’t paid for time spent donning and doffing your uniform, attorneys would like to speak to you about your rights.
What’s Going On?
Class action lawsuits are being filed across the country alleging that park rangers are getting cheated out of proper wages because they’re not being paid for time spent changing in and out of their uniforms.
And, in August 2016, a court handed down a favorable ruling for these workers. The ruling stated that park rangers who spend time putting on and taking off their uniforms must be paid for this time. This is because donning and doffing is an integral and necessary part of the park rangers’ jobs, the court said.
Now, attorneys are investigating the pay practices of parks and recreation departments across the country to help determine how widespread this potentially illegal practice may be.
Park Ranger Uniform Regulations: What Does the Law Say?
A federal law known as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the rules for when time spent by an employee should be paid or unpaid.
According to the law, pay is required for all “principal activities” that a worker is employed to perform. For park rangers, this may include obvious job tasks such helping visitors with directions and policing the grounds.
The term “principal activities,” however, also includes tasks that are completed outside of regularly scheduled shifts. This includes changing in and out of uniforms, so long as this is an “integral and indispensable” part of the worker’s job.
When Should Changing into a Uniform Be a Paid Activity?
Determining whether donning and doffing uniforms is a paid activity depends heavily on whether the task is an “integral” and “necessary” part of the workers’ jobs.
For park rangers, courts have found that time spent donning and doffing uniforms is more likely to be “integral” and “necessary” – and therefore paid – if:
The worker – by neglecting to change into uniform – is inhibited from performing his or her job (e.g., policing visitors, assisting visitors with directions, helping in emergency situations etc.)
The worker changes his or her uniform at work, rather than at home
The uniform, which also includes protective gear, helps the worker protect visitors against heightened dangers at the park
The employer gives rangers thorough, detailed and direct instructions on how to don and doff their uniforms
The worker is disciplined if he or she does not follow donning and doffing instructions
The uniform signals “authority” and attracts visitors in need of assistance
The uniform includes critical “tools of the trade” – which, for park rangers, may include handcuffs, mace, flashlights, radios, etc.
In general, the more pre- and post-shift activity that is performed for the employer’s benefit (and the less choice the worker has in that matter), the more likely it is that the time should be paid.
It has been reported that some park rangers spend up to 30 minutes per day donning and doffing their uniforms and gear.
How Can a Lawsuit Help Me?
Park rangers who weren’t paid for time spent donning and doffing uniforms may be able to file a lawsuit to recover unpaid wages. They may also be entitled to collect unpaid overtime wages if time spent changing in and out of uniforms pushes their weekly hours beyond 40.
Furthermore, a lawsuit could help ensure parks and recreation departments across the country follow federal regulations regarding donning and doffing.