Warehouse Workers' Mandatory Security Screenings Not Compensable

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that hourly workers required by their employer to undergo security screening after their shifts aren't entitled to compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Dec. 9—an unusual result for the Roberts court—that hourly warehouse workers required by their employer to undergo security screening after their shifts and before leaving the warehouse are not entitled to compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The ruling reversed a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals—a common result for the Roberts court.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the decision in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, et al., No. 13-433. The case had been argued only nine weeks earlier, on Oct. 8, 2014.

Integrity Staffing Solutions provides warehouse workers nationwide for Amazon, and the staffing company requires that the workers, who retrieve products from warehouse shelves and package them for delivery, undergo the screening, in order to deter theft. Waiting to be screened and then being screened takes roughly 25 minutes, according to the decision. The case involved two people working at Amazon warehouses in Nevada.

The Ninth Circuit held that the screening is compensable as integral and indispensable to an employee's principal activities if it is necessary to the principal work and performed for the employer's benefit. But Thomas' majority opinion held that the security screenings are noncompensable because they are not the principal activity or activities which employees are employed to perform—that is, retrieving and packing products.

The Solicitor General and the U.S. Department of Labor agree that the screening time is noncompensable, the opinion states.

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