- Court: United States Supreme Court
- Area(s) of Law: Labor Law
- Date Filed: December 9, 2014
- Case #: 13-433
- Judge(s)/Court Below: Thomas, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. Sotomayor, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which Kagan, J., joined.
- Full Text Opinion
Petitioner's employees retrieve goods from warehouse shelves and package them to send to Amazon.com customers. At the end of each shift these employees are required to undergo a security screening to ensure none are stealing. The process of screening and waiting to be screened takes roughly twenty-five minutes each day. Respondent-employees brought suit seeking compensation for this time under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The District Court dismissed their suit for failure to state a claim. It held that the time was only compensable if it was "integral and indispensable" to the work they were hired to perform. The Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that activities required solely for the benefit of the employer are integral and indispensable. The Supreme Court granted certiorari and reverses.
When the FLSA was first enacted, the Supreme Court broadly construed the terms "work" and "workweek." This resulted in a flood of litigation and an immense amount of backpay owed by employers. In response, Congress passed the Portal-to-Portal Act that exempted "activities which are preliminary and postliminary to . . . principal . . . activities" from being compensable. The Supreme Court has since consistently held that preliminary or postliminary activities are those that are not integral and indispensable to the completion of the principal activities. Because Respondents were hired to work in a warehouse and not to undergo security screenings, and because those screenings are not integral and indispensable to one's work in a warehouse, the screenings are not compensable.