We advised you earlier of a pending US Supreme Court case in which warehouse employees were seeking to be paid for time they spent waiting and going through security screenings at the end of their shift before they could leave the building. On December 9, 2014 the US Supreme Court ruled that the time spent waiting in line for security screening and the screening itself were not compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The final decision rested on defining the activities that are integral to the work that the employees were hired to do. Screening or waiting to be screened were not a part of the work to be performed or necessary to the work itself. In rendering their decision, the justices noted that the Ninth Circuit appeals court erroneously considered the time compensable because the employer was controlling the time of the employees. However, activities such as this that are preliminary or postliminary to the principal activity of working are excluded from compensation under the Portal to Portal Act.
Following are the relevant portions of the Portal to Portal Act cited in the court decision:
a) Except as provided in subsection (b) [which covers work compensable by contract or custom], no employee shall be subject to any liability or punishment under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended . . . on account of the failure of such employer . . . to pay an employee overtime compensation, for or on account of any of the following activities of such employee engaged in on or after the date of the enactment of this Act — (1) walking, riding, or traveling to and from the actual place of performance of the principal activity or activities which such employee is employed to perform, and which such employee is employed to perform, and (2) activities which are preliminary to or postliminary to said principal activity or activities, which occur either prior to the time on any particular workday at which such employee commences, or subsequent to the time on any particular workday at which he ceases, such principal activity or activities. §4, 61 Stat. 86–87 (codified at 29 U. S. C. §254(a)).