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Case to Watch: Integrity Staffing v. Jesse Busk

The U.S. SGavel on court deskupreme Court recently heard oral arguments in a case where the fundamental question concerned whether employers have to pay workers for time spent undergoing security checks as part of their entering and or exiting the workplace. The outcome of this case will likely affect how hourly employees are compensated for tasks outside their regular work shift.

The case at issue involves employees of Integrity Staffing Solutions who are responsible for handling merchandise shipped out of warehouses, like those of Amazon.com. In 2010, these workers brought a class-action lawsuit claiming they were forced to spend up to a half hour daily without pay while they went through security screenings aimed at protecting against theft. The lawsuit sought back pay, overtime and damages. In April, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the screenings were an integral part of the warehousing job, done for the benefit of the employer and that the employees should be compensated under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Integrity appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. According to Integrity, the mandatory screenings are akin to traffic jams when an employer is located a high-traffic area, "Both circumstances may result in minor inconveniences to employees, but neither is remotely the type of issue that should be subject to mandatory, government-imposed compensation."

Although the case is limited to security checks, the Supreme Court's ultimate decision could impact the compensability of other activities that occur before and after shifts. Retail groups and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce say the appeals court ruling, if upheld, could lead to hundreds of millions of dollars in potential liabilities for employers. During oral argument certain member of the Supreme Court expressed open skepticism of the employees’ arguments, so it is unclear what the final decision on this matter will be. But whatever the decision, it is clear that it will directly affect a great number of employers and their employees. Stay tuned to our blog for updates on this pivotal case.

Luke Wingfield

 Luke A. Wingfield is an associate with McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC. Mr. Wingfield concentrates his practice in employment law, insurance defense, litigation and administrative law. He is located in the firm’s Lexington office and can be reached at lwingfield@mmlk.com or at (859) 231-8780, ext. 1265. 

This article is intended as a summary of federal and state law and does not constitute legal advice.

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