By Linda H. Evans,
On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Amazon.com Inc. warehouse contractors need not be paid for the time they spend waiting to go through security screenings.
Some of the workers had claimed that they spend up to 25 minutes waiting to clear security at the end of their shifts. The contractor, Integrity Staffing Solutions, disputed those claims saying the screenings are designed to take about 90 seconds. Amazon was not a party to the suit, but there have been about 13 class action suits involving more than 400,000 workers from various warehouse companies seeking hundreds of millions of dollars for the time spent waiting for screenings.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had allowed the case to go forward, saying such screenings were for the company’s benefit and a necessary part of the job. However, the Supremes did not see it that way, using the 1947 Portal-to-Portal Act which says that companies do not necessarily have to pay for before or after work activities unless those activities are an integral and indispensable part of the job for which the workers are employed. Although employees lost the case under federal law, some state laws may allow them to be paid for the screening time.