Supreme Court Rules No Pay for Passing Through Security Screenings

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The Supreme Court has ruled that these employees are not required to be compensated for their time spent submitting to security screenings at work. (Getty Images)

Jesse Busk and Laurie Castro worked at warehouses filling Amazon.com orders. Their employer, Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc., required its hourly workers to undergo a security screening before leaving the warehouse each day. Busk and Castro claimed that they were entitled to compensation for this time, and subsequently took their argument to court.

In the case of Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require hourly employees to be paid for the time they spend undergoing security screenings. The ruling has significant impact on employers as well as employees working in courthouses, correctional institutions and other environments where security screenings are prevalent.

Under the FLSA, employers only have to pay “non-exempt” employees for preliminary and postliminary activities that are “integral and indispensable” to a principal activity. According to the Court, an activity is “integral and indispensable” to a principal activity “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 Court concluded that security screenings were not intrinsic to retrieving and packing products, and that Integrity Staffing Solutions could have eliminated the screenings altogether without impairing employees’ ability to complete their work.

The SLLC’s amicus brief made similar arguments to those the Court adopted. This case is a significant victory for local governments who will now not be faced with higher payroll costs for employee security screenings or a mandate to reduce screenings to a de minimis amount.

James Ho, Ashley Johnson and Andrew LeGrand, of the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Dallas, TX, wrote the SLLC’s brief, which was joined by the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, the International City/County Management Association, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the International Municipal Lawyers Association, the Government Finance Officers Association, the National Public Employer Labor Relations Association and the International Public Management Association for Human Resources.

Lisa Soronen bio photoAbout the Author: Lisa Soronen is the Executive Director of the State and Local Legal Center and a regular contributor to CitiesSpeak.