Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Interesting Ruling By SCOTUS

From the Las Vegas Sun: The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that warehouse workers who fill orders for retail giant Amazon don't have to be paid for time spent waiting to pass through security checks at the end of their shifts.
The unanimous decision is a victory for the growing number of retailers and other companies that routinely screen workers to prevent employee theft. The justices said federal law does not require companies to pay employees for the extra time because it is unrelated to their primary job duties.
Some workers at Amazon contractor Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc., claim they wait up to 25 minutes to clear security before they can go home. Amazon has disputed those claims.
The Supreme Court reversed a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the screenings should be compensated because they were performed for the employer's benefit and were integral to the workers' jobs.
Writing for the court, Justice Clarence Thomas said the screenings are not the "principal activity" which the workers are employed to perform.
"Integrity Staffing did not employ its workers to undergo security screenings, but to retrieve products from warehouse shelves and package those products for shipment to Amazon customers," Thomas said.
Thomas also said the security checks were not "integral and indispensable" to the employees' duties as warehouse workers. He based his decision on a federal law called the Portal-to-Portal Act, which specifically exempts employers from paying for pre- and post-work activities such as waiting to pick up protective gear or waiting in line to punch the clock.  http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2014/dec/09/court-no-pay-amazon-warehouse-security-checks/?utm_source=mostpopular&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign=mostRead
On the face of it, I agree with the Court but I hope it doesn't open the door for abuse by some companies.  These companies may have workers perform work that is not part of their job and then try and not pay them for it.
For instance, if a factory worker is done for the day but the company may require the worker to clean up their work area, even if it not be in his job detail.  And then, if the company refuses to pay the worker because the clean up is not part of their work detail, that can open up a new can of worms.

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