Supreme Court Gives Employers Holiday Gift

December 11, 2014

By:    John E. Murray

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk.  The question in that case was whether employees are entitled to be paid for time spent in anti-theft security screenings at the end of their shift.

Integrity Staffing supplied employees to Amazon’s warehouses.  These employees retrieved products from warehouse shelves and packaged them for delivery to Amazon’s customers.  At the end of each shift, employees were required to submit to a security screening similar to the process used for airport security.  Employees were required to remove anything containing metal, and to pass through a metal detector.  The purpose of this screening was theft prevention.

Much like the airport screening procedure, this anti-theft process resulted in long lines.  On average, it took employees 25 minutes to get through this process before they could leave work for the day.  A class of employees claimed they should be paid for this time.  The Supreme Court disagreed.

The Supreme Court ruled that employees are not entitled to compensation for pre-shift or post-shift activities unless they are not necessary for the safe or effective performance of their jobs.  For example, meat cutting employees should be paid for time spent sharpening their knives because, without sharp knives, they would be ineffective.  Also, the time employees spend changing clothes and showering after working in a battery plant is compensable because these employees work around toxic chemicals.  The Court found the anti-theft screenings of the Amazon warehouse workers to be different.  Employees could safely and effectively do their jobs without these screenings.  Therefore, the time spent waiting for and submitting to these screenings is not compensable.

The Supreme Court’s decision will benefit every employer who wishes to use post-shift screening procedures to minimize theft or enhance security.  If you have questions about how your organization could implement or benefit from such a procedure, please call John Murray at (414) 226-4818, or any other Lindner & Marsack attorney at (414) 273-3910.

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