Supreme Court To Decide Whether Employers Must Pay Workers for Security Checks


The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a case brought by a group of temporary warehouse employees seeking pay for time spent going through mandatory security checks at the end of their work shifts. The workers are seeking back pay, overtime, and double damages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) .

In its effort to curb employee theft, the employer requires warehouse employees to pass through a security screening before and after their shifts, but does not pay them for the time spent in these lines — up to 30 minutes.

FLSA requirements state that employees must be paid for pre- and post-shift activities that are "integral and indispensable" to their principal work activities. The employees claim that they meet this standard and are entitled to be compensated for the time spent in the security lines. The employer, however, argues that the screening time is part of their regular travel to and from work, a task found to be non-compensable under the FLSA.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit allowed the case to move forward last year, creating a conflict with decisions in the 2nd and 11th Circuits that held workers do not need to be paid for similar post-work duties that are not a part of their regular work tasks. The Supreme Court's decision to resolve the conflict comes on the heels of its recent decision that employers do not have to pay for the time spent by unionized workers putting on (donning) and taking off (doffing) personal protective gear.

The Court's decision in this case could have far-reaching consequences for employee security checks, an increasingly common feature of the workplace. FLSA can be difficult and complex to decipher and administer in the workplace. Employers should perform periodic reviews of their policies on wage and hour issues and procedures for training employees on FLSA requirements.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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