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Supreme Court Says Employers Do Not Have to Pay Employees for Time Spent in Security Checks

    Client Alerts
  • December 12, 2014
On Tuesday, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court concluded that federal wage and hour laws do not require employers to pay employees for time spent going through security checks after they complete their job tasks. In Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk, the employer was a contractor to Amazon, providing labor at its distribution facilities. To prevent theft, Amazon requires workers on its premises to undergo searches after completing their shifts. According to the plaintiffs, these searches can take up to 30 minutes.

The plaintiff sued, claiming that the time spent waiting for and undergoing the searches was compensable working time under the Fair Labor Standards and Portal-to-Portal Acts. They argued that the security screenings are integral elements to performance of their jobs, and therefore must be compensated under the FLSA.

The Court disagreed, characterizing this time as not a principal activity or intrinsic element of the workers’ jobs. By definition, employees could perform their job tasks without the screenings. As an incidental activity, it is not compensable working time under the FLSA because the plaintiffs were not hired to perform this task.

The decision is a victory for employers. It will likely end numerous pending class action lawsuits against retailers who perform post-shift security checks. The Court’s reasoning may also be applied to certain other post-shift activities not directly integral to performance of the employees’ job duties.