• U.S. Supreme Court Finds Post-Shift Security Screenings to be Non-Compensable
  • February 25, 2015 | Authors: John J. Buckley; Jeffrey S. Stewart
  • Law Firm: Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A. A Professional Corporation - Allentown Office
  • The United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled last week that time spent by workers waiting to undergo, and then actually undergoing, post-shift security screenings was non-compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The Court’s decision in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk provides guidance to employers regarding what activities are “integral and indispensable” to employees’ principal activities and therefore compensable.

    The plaintiffs in Busk were hourly employees of Integrity Staffing Solutions, which provides warehouse staffing to Amazon.com. Their job duties entailed retrieving products from warehouse shelves and packaging the products for delivery to Amazon customers. Employees at the warehouse were required to undergo an anti-theft security screening at the end of each shift, which included removing their wallets, keys, and belts and passing through metal detectors. The employees claimed that they spent up to 25 minutes per day waiting to undergo and undergoing these screenings and sought compensation for this time.

    The Supreme Court held that the post-shift screenings at issue were non-compensable “postliminary” activities under the FLSA. The FLSA does not require employers to pay employees for activities that are “preliminary” or “postliminary” to their principal activity or activities. The Court determined that because the security screenings were neither the principal activities that the employees were hired to perform (i.e., retrieving and packaging products) nor “integral and indispensable” to those activities, they were “postliminary” and therefore non-compensable.

    The Court’s Busk decision aids employers in evaluating whether an activity performed by a non-exempt employee is compensable under the FLSA. Nevertheless, employers with unionized workforces should anticipate employee demands to be paid for pre- and post-shift security screenings, as the Court noted that such claims are “properly presented to the employer at the bargaining table..., not to a court in a FLSA claim.”

    In recent years, employers have seen a dramatic increase in wage and hour lawsuits. Despite the victory for employers in Busk, these suits show no signs of slowing down.