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Fourth Circuit Says Pre-Work Security Checks Not Compensable Working Time under ADA

    Client Alerts
  • July 06, 2007

Since 9/11, employees in a number of security-sensitive jobs at airports and other locations have had to deal with new and increased security measures.  Recently, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (which includes North and South Carolina) reviewed a case involving hourly employees’ right to compensation for time spent undergoing mandatory security searches before they began their daily shifts.  The case, Gorman v. Consolidated Edison Corp., was filed by a group of employees at a nuclear power plant seeking pay for security-related tasks involved in reporting to and leaving work.  The employees claimed that under the federal Portal-to-Portal Act (part of the Fair Labor Standards Act), the time spend going through security constituted compensable working time.  The employees analogized to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that required pay for time spent putting on and taking off protective clothing.


The Fourth Circuit rejected the plaintiffs’ claims, affirming summary judgment for the employer.  Under the Portal-to-Portal Act, only pre-employment activities deemed “integral” to the work activities are compensable.  In this case, the security measures are an indispensable part of the work, but do not actually relate to its performance.  The court characterized security checks as a modern paradigm of non-compensable pre-employment activities, and refused to consider them as working time.  This decision assures employers working in safety sensitive areas that time spent undergoing security checks will not be considered compensable working time.