Time waiting for security screenings may be unpaid in certain circumstances

Every day, countless employees undergo security screenings before and after their work shifts. While many of these individuals believe that their employers should pay for the time it takes to complete these screenings, the Supreme Court disagrees under certain circumstances.  In a unanimous decision, the Court held that security screening time is non-compensable, because it is not “integral and indispensable” to the principal responsibilities of the workers.

The case involved warehouse workers who pulled items from shelves and packaged them for delivery.  At the conclusion of each shift, the company mandated that each worker pass through a security screening.  According to the employees, this process took approximately 25 minutes to complete.  In bringing the case, the plaintiffs asserted that they should be paid for this additional time.

What is an “Integral and Indispensable” Activity

Though the workers were successful in front of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court reversed and handed a major victory to employers. In defining an “Integral and Indispensable” responsibility, the court explained that it is an “intrinsic element of those [work] activities and one with which the employee cannot dispense if he is to perform his principal activities.” In this case, the Court found that the security screenings were not essential to the work responsibilities, ruling that the employees were able to continue with their responsibilities whether or not the security screenings continued.

If you have questions about the implications of this court decision, contact our office for a free case evaluation..