A significant labor case headed to the U.S. Supreme Court could determine whether workers are entitled to pay for all the time they spend in company-mandated security checks at the end of the workday.
The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear the case, which involves a group of temporary workers hired to work in Amazon.com’s warehouses in Nevada. The workers were required to undergo security checks as part of the company’s anti-theft procedures.
The workers, Jesse Busk and Laurie Castro, said that they and other employees hired through Amazon contractor Integrity Staffing Solutions had to spend nearly 30 minutes at the end of their shifts waiting for the security check. They filed a lawsuit in 2010 arguing that they should be compensated for that extra time under the terms of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last April that the case could move forward, a decision that encouraged several other similar lawsuits against Amazon, its third-party warehouse contractors, and other big retailers such as CVS and Apple.
The case pivots on interpretation of the FLSA, which requires companies to compensate employees for pre- and post-shift activities that are “integral and indispensable” to their principle work duties.
Integrity Staffing Solutions argued in a brief to the court that the time-consuming security screenings mandated by the company “are indistinguishable from many other tasks that have been found non-compensable under the FLSA, such as waiting to punch in and out on the time clock, walking from the parking lot to the work place, waiting to pick up a paycheck, or waiting to pick up protective gear before donning it for a work shift.”
Corporate groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have urged the high court to hear the case, hopeful that it will rule in favor of corporations after a January ruling by the Supreme Court found companies didn’t have to pay workers for the time it took them putting on and taking off safety gear if a collective bargaining agreement precludes employees from such compensation.