Supreme Court Hears Overtime Arguments on Pay for Security Checks

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that employees be paid time and a half for overtime. But there is an exception for activities which are not part of the job. Historically the test for determining whether an activity is part of one’s job and therefore “work” for which the employee must be paid is whether it is required by the employer and done for the employer’s benefit.

The Supreme Court hears arguments tomorrow in Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk. Integrity Staffing Solutions is a warehousing firm that provides storage space for and order filling services for retailers like Concerned about workers stealing products, Integrity has, like many other companies, begun requiring its employees to go through a security check before they leave work at the end of the day. (See our post on a similar case against Apple.) To complete the security check, employees must stand in line as much as half an hour. Since they cannot simply go home, the employees argue that their time is no longer theirs and is therefore overtime. But the company doesn’t pay its employees for this time because it does not consider it “work”.

The trial court dismissed the case finding that the screening was not part of the job. But the Ninth Circuit reversed finding that the security checks were for the benefit of the employer and therefore the employees should be paid for the time they are required to expend going through them. Integrity is now asking the Supreme Court to narrow the definition of work. Integrity contends that if an employee did his tasks during the “working hours”, but then evaded the security check by slipping out a side door, he would still have fulfilled all parts of his job.

When employees are working beyond the hours for which they are paid by their employers, questions about unpaid overtime arise under the FLSA. These questions can be complicated. If you are working more hours than you are getting paid, you should consult with an employment lawyer. To discuss your particular situation contact the employment attorneys at Maduff & Maduff today.