SCOTUS hears arguments on pay for time waiting for mandated security checks

The New York Times (Oct. 8, 2014) reported that the US Supreme Court heard arguments on Oct. 8 on whether workers at an Amazon warehouse in Las Vegas must be paid for the time they spend waiting to go through a security screening at the end of the day. Workers say the process meant to prevent theft can take as long as 25 minutes.

According to the Times report there have been 13 class-action suits against Amazon and other companies involving more than 400,000 plaintiffs seeking hundreds of millions of dollars.

The case rests on interpretation of the 1947 “Portal-to-Portal Act” which states that companies need not pay for “preliminary” or “postliminary” activities, meaning ones that take place before and after the workday proper. The Supreme Court interpreted the law in 1956 in Steiner v. Mitchell to require pay only for tasks that are an “integral and indispensable part of the principal activities for which covered workmen are employed.”

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, allowed the Las Vegas case to proceed, saying the screenings were for the company’s benefit and were a necessary part of the workers’ jobs. That was enough, the appeals court said, to make the screenings “integral and indispensable.”

For the entire NY Times report, click here.