Supreme Court Takes On Amazon Warehouse Workers’ Case Over Unpaid Time

Should warehouse workers have to spend their own free time waiting for security procedures after their work shift is done, or should companies like Amazon have them on the clock during that process? Amazon workers have been fighting to collect pay for that time spent in line waiting for security checks, and the United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear their case.

The SCOTUS will use this Amazon case to consider whether or not companies should have to pay their employees for activities they require of them, like having their personal belongings searched before they leave work, reports Bloomberg News.

The justices will review a federal appeals court decision that allowed the Amazon lawsuit over security lines at warehouses in Nevada.

Similar claims have popped up at companies like CVS and Apple as well, so whatever the justices decide will likely have a far-reaching effect anywhere there’s a theft prevention policy in place.

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires compensation for both pre- and post-shift activities that are “integral and indispensable” to an employee’s basic job functions. The SCOTUS ruled on another part of that law in January, saying that companies don’t have to pay workers for the time they spend putting on or taking off safety gear in situations where a collective bargaining agreement doesn’t include compensation.

Amazon Warehouse Worker Case Accepted by Supreme Court [Bloomberg News]

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  1. GoldHillDave says:

    Yeah, OK, I worked a union job, but it seems pretty clear to me that if they make you do it, they have to pay you for it.

    • MathManv2point0 says:

      Just playing devil’s advocate but if my job requires a uniform or dress code, whether it be at UPS, FedEx, Post-office, restaurant, or even an office, should I be compensated for my time getting dressed in the morning?

      However, to me, this whole security check is very different than that. I feel the employees have a point as this check is Amazon’s policy and employees can’t even perform “basic job functions” without going through this security check. To me this security check is “integral and indispensable” to a employee even being allowed to perform his/her duties.

      • Cara says:

        I don’t think your example is very equal. Everyone gets dressed in the morning, so whether you get dressed in casual clothes or your work-required uniform, it’s still going to take about the same amount of time.

        A better analogy would be if you had to get dressed at home, go into work, and then change into your work-required uniform at the job site. That’s something that isn’t normal, it’s an added requirement that takes more time.

        In the latter instance, I would totally support requiring the employer compensate you for the time you spend changing into and out of your uniform. Just like in the story, especially as there were reports of people waiting 30 minutes or more, at both ends of the shift.

        • MathManv2point0 says:

          I complete agree with you and your analogy. My examples we not intended to be equal. My first comment was more of a response to the original statement of “if they make you do it, they have to pay you for it”.

          30 minutes is a bit crazy. If I had to lose 30 mins+ of my day simply waiting due to a specific requirement from my employer, I would want to be compensated too!

  2. Thorzdad2 says:

    If standing in-line for a security check is required part of your job, you should be on the clock and paid for it.

  3. Alecto67 says:

    Two things here: in regards to the example of should they pay you to get dressed. The answer lies in what constitutes the dress code. If the “uniform” takes more time, can’t be transported, etc, then you will find that businesses would need to pay you for that time. Case in point – Disneyworld cast members that wear the costumes. They clock in prior to putting on the Mickey Mouse ears, the Cinderella gown, etc.

    The other the example from a few years ago where many companies were sued (Chase, Microsoft, etc) because their support staff would be expected to arrive 10-15 minutes before their shift to give their systems time to boot up, get logged in, etc. I can’t see how Amazon will be able to prove that their practice is any different, and I would expect that Amazon will be forced to move the clock to the other side of the security check.