Mandatory Park And Ride Scheme Not Compensable Work Time Under FLSA
Published by Eric A. Welter on January 28, 2013
On January 11, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that an employer’s refusal to pay employees for travel time incurred during a mandatory park and ride scheme was not a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and affirmed summary judgment in favor of the employer. The mandatory scheme […]
On January 11, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that an employer’s refusal to pay employees for travel time incurred during a mandatory park and ride scheme was not a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and affirmed summary judgment in favor of the employer. The mandatory scheme was not integral and indispensable to the employee’s jobs. More after the break.
The case is Justin Griffin v. S&B Engineers and Constructors, Limited, No. 12-40382, January 11, 2013. S&B, an engineering and construction services contractor, required laborers to participate in a mandatory park and ride scheme. The scheme required all laborers to park and ride. S&B provided busses from a lot about six to seven miles away from the Motiva Plant in Port Arthur, Texas. Laborers had to walk through turnstiles and were required to scan their badge. The laborers were required to follow Motiva’s Transportation Rules of Conduct which included rules against fighting, littering, consuming alcohol and drugs and possessing weapons. Violation of these rules could be subject to disciplinary action.
According to the Court’s Order, Griffin, a journeyman electrician, worked at the plant for about two months. After leaving S&B, Griffin filed a collective action suit on his behalf, and on behalf of similarly situated laborers, alleging S&B’s mandatory busing scheme violated the FLSA because laborers were not compensated for their travel time.
The Portal-to-Portal Act exempts employee compensation for ordinary commuting to and from work, or activities which are preliminary to or postliminary to the principal activity. The Court of Appeals held that S&B’s mandatory busing scheme arrangement was simply normal traveling time that laborers would also be required to undertake by the mere fact of working at the Motiva Plant in accordance with 29 C.F.R. § 785.35.
Griffin testified at deposition that he had not performed any work prior to the beginning of his shift at the Motiva Plant nor received any work-related instructions prior to or during the bus rides. He also acknowledged that he retrieved his tools after the daily safety meetings, which were held at the Motiva Plant at approximately 7:10am, and that he returned his tools at 5:20pm, ten minutes prior to the end of his shift. Furthermore, Griffin explained that S&B did not restrict him from engaging in personal activities such as sleeping and reading during the rides.
Relying heavily on the above deposition testimony, the Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s granting of summary judgment and affirmed that Griffin’s travel time was not compensable. The Court declined to adopt such a per se rule that a mandatory park and ride scheme renders travel time compensable. S&B’s rules were simply logistical, administrative, and marginally restrictive, and not “integral and indispensable” to Griffin’s activities as a journeyman electrician.Topics: FLSA/Overtime