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Posted December 9th, 2014 in Legal Insights

Drawing the Line on Waiting in Line

SCOTUS Rules That Hourly Workers Aren’t Necessarily Entitled to Pay for Undergoing Security Procedures

Your hourly employees arrive to work and perform their duties – but then undergo a mandatory security process before heading home. Are they entitled to pay for this post-shift screening? NO, according to a new ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. In considering Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk – a case involving compensable time for employees at an Amazon fulfillment center – the high court gave an unusually unanimous opinion overturning a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on the basis of Congress’s passage of the Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947 (amending the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”)). The Court determined that the central issue was not whether the post-shift screening was required by the employer, or if the employer had ensured the screening was as efficient as possible, but rather whether such screening activities were “integral” and “indispensable” to the employee’s principal activities. The Court pointed to its own precedent that the donning of safety equipment in a battery plant, or the sharpening of knives for butchers, were compensable since those duties were required for the employee to perform their duties safely and efficiently. But since Integrity Staffing hired employees to “retrieve products from warehouse shelves and package those products,” not to undergo security screenings, the time spent deterring employee theft at the end of a shift was not integral or indispensable enough to warrant pay. Nilan Johnson Lewis attorney Jen Cornell says the case allows employers to create post-shift security procedures to prevent theft without fear of FLSA litigation. “The Court also ignored arguments that the employer needed to find the least time-consuming method of conducting those screenings,” says Cornell. “That means employers have more peace of mind to determine the most cost-effective screening for their business without worrying about whether a court will determine the process somehow renders the time compensable.” To learn more about the subject, contact Jen Cornell at 612.305.7717.

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