Mireles v. Frio Foods, Inc
899 F.2d 1407 (5th Cir. 1990).
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
REAVLEY, Circuit Judge:
The plaintiffs worked on an assembly line at a frozen food packaging facility operated by
defendant Frio Foods, Inc. ("Frio"). They appeal the trial court's decision that the Fair
Labor Standards Act ("FLSA")… does not require Frio to pay them for idle time of less
than fifteen minutes or more than forty-five minutes. Plaintiffs also appeal the trial court's
decision to limit liquidated damages to $ 1,000.00 under 29 U.S.C. § 260…Frio cross-
appeals that part of the decision entitling plaintiffs to compensation for idle time that is
between fifteen minutes and forty-five minutes. Frio also cross-appeals the liquidated
damages award [arguing, that no liquidated damages should have been awarded]. We
affirm in part and reverse in part.
The plaintiffs in this case are thirty-four current or former employees of defendant, Frio,
who worked on an assembly line at Frio's frozen food packaging facility. The plaintiffs
were paid the minimum wage…for each recorded hour of work. The assembly line
workers, including the plaintiffs, worked in crews. There were as many as one hundred
employees in certain crews. The crews, in turn, were divided into groups. The time
worked by a group was recorded on a master time card that was controlled by Frio. Each
employee's pay was based on the hours recorded on the master time card.
Generally, Frio ran a day shift and a night shift. At times, a third "middle shift" was used.
At the end of each crew's shift, Frio informed the members of that crew the time that they
were expected to report to work the next day. Normally, the day shift was directed to
report at 8:00 a.m. and the night shift was told to report at 4:30 p.m. At times, Frio would
become aware that work would not be ready to begin at these scheduled times. In such
instances, Frio would attempt to notify the workers to report at a later time. The later
starting times would usually be on the hour, that is, 9:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., or 6:00 p.m.,
7:00 p.m. or the like.
When assembly line employees arrived at the Frio plant, they were required to sign their
names on a sign-in sheet. This sign-in sheet did not identify the time at which the
employees arrived at work. At times, employees would arrive at work at the scheduled
starting time and would sign the sign-in sheet but would be required to wait until produce
was available before actually beginning productive work. Until the employees began
laboring on the assembly line, they were not "clocked in" on the master time card by their
supervisor. Because they were not "on the clock," Frio did not pay them for this waiting
In addition, during the day, work would stop occasionally because of a delay in the