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Mandatory Security Checks Not Compensable Time Under FLSA

Published by on January 14, 2015

On December 9, 2014, the United States Supreme Court released a decision holding that employees working in Amazon.com’s warehouses were not entitled to compensation under the FLSA for time spent going through mandatory security checks at the end of their shifts.  The Court found that the security checks and the time the employees had to […]

On December 9, 2014, the United States Supreme Court released a decision holding that employees working in Amazon.com’s warehouses were not entitled to compensation under the FLSA for time spent going through mandatory security checks at the end of their shifts.  The Court found that the security checks and the time the employees had to wait to complete the screening (approximately 25 minutes per shift) was a postliminary activity of their employment, and therefore not compensable time under the Portal-to-Portal Act.

Amazon required the warehouse staff to undergo individual security screenings at the end of every shift to ensure that the employees were not removing goods from the warehouse.  The Court reasoned that the warehouse employees’ principal work activities involved retrieving products from the warehouse shelves and packaging them for shipment, not undergoing security screenings.  Despite the fact that Amazon required the screenings, the screenings were not “integral and indispensable” to the employees’ primary retrieval and packaging activities.  The Court stated that the test for determining whether activities were integral and indispensable was whether the activity was tied to the productive work the individuals were employed to perform, not whether the employer required the activity.

Laconic Lookout: Requiring employees to participate in certain activities related to their work (like security checks) does not necessarily mean that the elapsed time is compensable.  Employers should be cautious however when requiring their employees to undertake time-consuming responsibilities tangentially related to their work.

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