Supremes OK Post-Shift Screening

By John Alan Doran

The Supreme Court today shed further light on post-work, non-compensable time under the FLSA. Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, No. 13-433 (U.S. December 9, 2014). The plaintiff class were warehouse workers who retrieved and packaged goods to ship to Amazon customers. After each work shift, they were required to stand in line to be screened for possible theft. The plaintiffs claimed they spent 25 minutes a day waiting in the security screen line, and the employer did not compensate them for their waiting time. The trial court dismissed the case, finding that the time spent in a security check line was not integral and indispensable to the employees’ warehouse work. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling, holding that because the employer required the employees to wait in line, and because the security screens solely benefitted the employer, the time was compensable.

The Supreme Court made short shrift of the Ninth Circuit’s analysis. The Supreme Court stated that the test for compensability is not simply a matter of whether the employer required the employee to engage in the post-work activity, or the Portal-to-Portal Act would be rendered completely meaningless. Instead, post-work activity is only compensable when the activity is principally the kind of work the employee was hired to perform and is integral and indispensable to that work. Here, the employees were not hired to go through security screenings and they could just as easily perform their actual job duties with or without security screenings, so the time was not compensable under the FLSA.