From an editorial Thursday in the Los Angeles Times:
Imagine you’ve finished your shift, left your workstation, and as you exit the building you have to wait an additional 20 or 25 minutes to clear a security checkpoint set up by your employer to ensure that you aren’t stealing anything. Should you be paid for that time as part of your workday?
Integrity Staffing Solutions, a contracting company that provided warehouse workers to Amazon.com, says no. But some former Integrity employees in Nevada disagree, and the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday heard oral arguments in the case.
The issue goes back to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act and the Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947, which together established rules about what is considered work time. Subsequent court decisions have held that walking from one’s car to one’s work site, for instance, is not considered part of the compensable workday.
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But if an activity is “an integral and indispensable part of the principal activities for which covered workmen are employed,” then the time it takes to do the activity should be paid for, the Supreme Court ruled in Steiner vs. Mitchell in 1956.
The question in the Integrity case is whether waiting in line for a body search, at the insistence of the employer and for the employer’s benefit, fits under that “integral and indispensable” definition.
We think it does. By making it part of a warehouse worker’s daily job requirement, the company deemed it indispensable.
It is unconscionable that the company detains employees for as much as two extra hours over a five-day workweek without paying them. The court should back the workers in this one.