Wednesday, December 10, 2014

SCOTUS: Post-Shift Security Screenings are Not Compensable

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk. Justice Thomas, for a unanimous court, explained the case and its holding:
The employer in this case required its employees, warehouse workers who retrieved inventory and packaged it for shipment, to undergo an antitheft security screening before leaving the warehouse each day. The question presented is whether the employees’ time spent waiting to undergo and undergoing those security screenings is compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), 29 U. S. C. §201 et seq., as amended by the Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947, §251 et seq. We hold that the time is not compensable.
Under the Portal-to-Portal Act, activities that are postliminary to the employees' principal activities are not compensable. Past precedent holds that "principal activities" encompass those activities that are "integral and indispensable" to the principal activities.

More from Justice Thomas:
Integrity Staffing did not employ its workers to undergo security screenings, but to retrieve products from warehouse shelves and package those products for shipment to Amazon customers . . . . [A]n activity is not integral and indispensable to an employee’s principal activities unless it is an intrinsic element of those activities and one with which the employee cannot dispense if he is to perform those activities. The screenings were not an intrinsic element of retrieving products from warehouse shelves or packaging them for shipment. And Integrity Staffing could have eliminated the screenings altogether without impairing the employees’ ability to complete their work.
Thus, the security screenings were not compensable under the FLSA.

Justice Sotomayor (joined by Justice Kagan) wrote a separate concurring opinion while also concurring with Justice Thomas's opinion.