Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. V. Busk: Are Security Screenings Compensable Time Under the FLSA?

Kayla Moreland , May 19, 2015

Last week, the United States Supreme Court in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk reversed the Ninth Circuit’s decision and found that that the time employees spent passing through anti-theft screening before leaving the warehouse was not compensable time under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  Integrity Staffing Solutions (Integrity Staffing) provides warehouse staffing for Amazon.com at fulfillment centers around the United States.  The plaintiffs in this case—former hourly warehouse employees at Integrity Staffing—alleged that the FLSA entitled them to compensation for waiting up to 25 minutes after clocking out from their shifts each day to undergo a security clearance which involved removing belts, keys, and wallets.

The Supreme Court’s analysis focused on the Portal-to-Portal Act provisions of the FLSA, which provide that activities “preliminary” or “postliminary” to an employee’s principal activity are generally not considered compensable time.  Activities that are “integral and indispensable” to an employee’s principal activity, however, are compensable.  The Supreme Court ultimately held that Integrity Staffing’s security screenings were not an integral part of the plaintiffs’ principal duties.  As the Court explained, an activity that is “integral and indispensable” to an employee’s principal activity must be one that the employee cannot dispense in order to perform those activities.  The Court unfortunately reasoned that if the security screenings were eliminated, it would not impair the employees’ abilities to perform their principal duties (packaging, shipping, or retrieving products from warehouse shelves).

Although this decision will have an impact on retail and logistics industries, it is important to keep in mind that certain state and local wage and hour laws may not follow the FLSA on this particular issue.

Source: David P. Phippen, Security Check-Out is Not “Compensable” Work Time, Supreme Court Says, Dec. 15, 2014 http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/security-check-out-is-not-compensable-35790/
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