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U.S. Supreme Court Rulings in HR Related Cases - Labor and Employment Law News

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Labor and Employment Law News


Posted on: Jul 13, 2015

Please note: This article was originally published on the website of Indy Society for Human Resource Management on July 8, 2015. You can view the original post here.

By Sara Blevins, Lewis & Kappes PC

The U.S. Supreme Court concluded its 2014-15 Term on June 30, 2015. The Court decided the following cases this Term that touch and concern HR matters:

Integrity Staffing Solutions Inc. v. Busk: 

The issue in this case was whether the time spent by an employee waiting in line to go through a security screening at the end of a shift was compensable time under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Portal-to-Portal Act. The Court held that it was not (9-0).

Integrity Staffing provides non-exempt warehouse employees to Amazon. At the end of each shift, the employees were required to go through security screening intended to prevent employee theft. Wait times were typically around twenty-five (25) minutes to get through the line. Integrity Staffing was not paying employees for this wait time and the employees argued that they should be.

The Portal-to-Portal Act provides that employers are not liable under FLSA for time “walking, riding, or traveling to and from the actual place of performance of the principal activity or activities which such employee is employed to perform” or for “activities which are preliminary to or postliminary to said principal activity or activities” occurring before or after the workday during which principal activities occur. The question raised in this case was whether the security screening was a postliminary activity. In making this determination, the Court noted that principal activities include all activities that are “integral and indispensable,” i.e. “it is an intrinsic element of those activities and one with which the employee cannot dispense with if he is to perform his principal activities.” The Court then explained that the security screenings were not a principal activity (the employees were not hired to go through security screenings), nor were they integral and indispensable to the duties of the warehouse employees. “The screenings were not an intrinsic element of retrieving products from warehouse shelves or packaging them for shipment. And Integrity Staffing could have eliminated the screenings altogether without impairing the employees’ ability to complete their work.” It did not matter to this analysis that the employer required the security screenings; the focus is on what the employee was hired to do. Likewise, the fact that Integrity Staffing could have made the wait time shorter was not a factor in the Court’s analysis because it “does not change the nature of the activity.”

Thus, the Court held, “an activity is integral and indispensable to the principal activities that an employee is employed to perform—and thus compensable under the FLSA—if it is an intrinsic element of those activities and one with which the employee cannot dispense if he is to perform his principal activities…the employees’ time spent waiting to undergo and undergoing Integrity Staffing’s security screenings does not meet these criteria…”

Continue reading here.

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