Filed under: U.S. GovernmentBy Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that companies do not have to pay workers for the time they spend undergoing security checks at the end of their shifts in a case involving an Amazon.com (AMZN) warehousing contractor.
On a 9-0 vote, the court said employees of Integrity Staffing Solutions facilities in Nevada, where merchandise is processed and shipped, cannot claim compensation for the up to half an hour a day they spend going through security screening aimed at protecting against theft.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote on behalf of the court that the screening process is not a "principal activity" of the workers' jobs under the Fair Labor Standards Act and therefore is not subject to compensation.
Principal, Intrinsic or Integral?
For workers to be paid, the activity in question must be "an intrinsic element" of the job and "one with which the employee cannot dispense if he is to perform his principal activities," Thomas wrote.
In April, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the screenings were an integral part of the warehousing job done for the benefit of the employer and should be compensated.
Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, is not directly involved in the case. But a business group called the Retail Litigation Center, in a brief supporting the warehousing company, said the industry in general loses $16 billion annually in thefts.
The case is Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc v. Jesse Busk and Laurie Castro, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 13-433.