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Supreme Court says steelworkers can't claim pay for time spent putting on protective gear

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WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court says steelworkers do not have to be paid for time they spend putting on and taking off protective gear they wear on the job.

The court was unanimous Monday in ruling in favour of United States Steel Corp. over workers' claims that they should be paid under the terms of federal labour law for the time it takes them to put on flame-retardant jackets and pants, safety glasses, earplugs, hardhats and other equipment.

Justice Antonin Scalia said for the court that the labour agreement between the company and the workers' union says the employees don't get paid for time spent changing clothes. Scalia said most of the items count as clothing. He said earplugs, glasses and respirators are not clothing, but take little time to put on.

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