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United States Supreme Court Case May Decide if Employees Should Be Compensated for Daily Security Screening

People are accustomed to waiting in security lines at the airport. It’s considered an annoying, although important, part of travel. However, employees in some businesses are required to pass through security on their way to and from work, and employees at an Amazon warehouse in Nevada feel they should be compensated for this time.

crowd%20in%20line%2028865636-001.jpgThe employees worked for Integrity Staffing Solutions, and provided temporary help at an Amazon.com warehouse. Jesse Busk and Laurie Castro, both of Nevada, say they were required to submit to a lengthy security check upon entering and before leaving the warehouse every day. They were not on the clock while waiting at security. Allegedly, the check could take as long as half an hour as employees waited their turn in line.

Amazon had good reason for instituting the security checks. In the past, employees had been arrested at various warehouse sites for pilfering thousands of dollars in desirable merchandise. Thus, instituting a thorough security check every day simply made good business sense.

Plaintiffs in the current lawsuit, which is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, argue that they should be compensated for the time they spent standing in line for security checks. They are relying upon the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, as the basis for their argument, but their employer does not agree that they are entitled to compensation.

Instead, Integrity believes that time spent in security checkpoints is akin to waiting in line for a paycheck or the time spent walking from a car to the office, and is not covered under FLSA. It’s not the first time that such cases have been brought to court. Both employees of airports and nuclear power plants have sued for and failed to win compensation for time spent in security. Because those checks were a requirement instituted by the TSA, courts did not side with the plaintiffs.

However, this case is different. An employer is being sued as the party that required the security checks while in the previous cases an outside entity mandated the security procedures. Whichever way this case goes, it will certainly set a precedent for other similar cases.