LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - On Wednesday, a bill was filed in the Arkansas House that is looking to overturn an Arkansas Supreme Court ruling on overtime pay.
In 2016, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that Gerber Products Company must pay over $3 million to workers at the Fort Smith facility for the time spent changing into uniforms, protective gears, as well as undressing after the shift has ended.
House Bill 1846, sponsored by Representative Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville) and Senator Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs), adds an emergency clause that would effectively override the 4-3 court ruling.
The 4-3 ruling sided with workers, saying that the state's Minimum Wage Act required the company to provide compensation for the activities despite a prior agreement with the union.
The emergency clause said the Supreme Court ruling was "at odds with the intent of the General Assembly because it misinterpreted state law." The clause said that dissenting opinion "better reflects" the stances of the General Assembly. Justice Rhonda K. Wood stated in her dissenting opinion that "floodgates will open to litigation at the enormous cost" to Arkansas businesses.
"In addition," Wood said, "the majority undermines the collective-bargaining process and destroys any confidence employers and employees have in the enforceability of their agreements."
The bill also states that the Minimum Wage Act of the State of Arkansas has existed for close to 50 years without interpretation that putting on or removing work clothing should be considered compensable work.
If passed, the emergency clause would immediately overturn the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling upon the signature of the Governor Asa Hutchinson or if the House overrides a potential veto.