Supreme Court: employers do not have to pay employees for preliminary, postliminary job activities

Amazon Supreme Court ImageIn December, the Supreme Court overturned a previous decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding whether employers are required to pay employees and contractors for the time they spend in security prior to or following their working shift. The Supreme Court stated that employers do not have to compensate employees for their time in security, because the checkpoints are not related to the “principal activities” that the job entails. The suit was brought against Amazon’s Integrity Staffing Solutions screening company after the book behemoth’s warehouse workers were required to stand and wait in lines to be screened before leaving at the end of their shifts. Amazon utilizes these security measures to prevent loss through employee theft. The Ninth Circuit Court previously ruled in favor of the employees because the security screening was mandatory and “for the benefit of the employer.” However, the Supreme Court overruled this decision, and determined that because the security checkpoints were not a part of the employees’ “principal” job descriptions — that is, if the employee, hypothetically, did not go through a security screening, it would not affect his or her ability to complete job duties — and therefore screenings should be considered “preliminary” or “postliminary” activities. It ruled that employees and contractors must only be compensated for “principal activities” such as those outlined in their job descriptions. The Court also ruled in favor of Integrity Staffing Solutions because the time spent screening employees could be “conceivably reduce[d].” However, work-related preliminary and postliminary activities, such as preparing tools and equipment or putting on specialized work gear, are considered “integral and indispensable” to the “principal activities,” and therefore must be compensated. The Supreme Court’s decision was unanimous. photo credit: Aurelijus Valeiša via photopin cc]]>

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