Supreme Court Holds
Time Spent in Security Screening
After Clocking Out Not Work Time
Not “Integral and Indispensable”
to the Principal Activity of the Job
In Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, et al (December 9, 2014), __US___, No, 13-433, employees of a subcontractor of Amazon sued over unpaid time spent going through a metal detector after punching out of work. The employees were warehouse workers at Amazon “fulfillment centers” locating and preparing merchandise for shipment to customers.
After clocking out at shift’s end, the employees exit the warehouse, then pass through a security check that requires them to remove items such as wallets, keys, and belts, then walk through a metal detector. Busk et al sued in a class action under the Fair Labor Standards Act, alleging the daily time spent after each shift in the screening process was work time.
The issue was whether the activity in question was “postliminary” to the principal activity of working in the warehouse (therefore not work time) or “integral and indispensable” to the principal activity. The court held that the activity was postliminary. Warehouse workers are not hired to undergo security screening, and in this case it was not an intrinsic element of retrieving products from the shelves and packaging them for shipment. Whether the employer required employees to go through the screening was not the main focus.
Busk does not clear things up, but it does set the tone. One question receiving little attention was how long the security step took; what if the process took twenty minutes? In the past the courts have held that the time spent by a butcher sharpening knives, or the time required to don protective gear, is compensable.
Note that this decision was under the FLSA. The result could be different under Illinois law.