Temporary warehouse workers in Nevada found themselves passing through security screens at the close of their shifts to minimize thefts. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in Busk v. Integrity Staffing Solutions, says this is compensable time under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Here, Busk and Castro have alleged that Integrity requires the security screenings, which must be conducted at work. They also allege that the screenings are intended to prevent employee theft – a plausible allegation since the employees apparently pass through the clearances only on their way out of work, not when they enter. As alleged, the security clearances are necessary to employees’ primary work as warehouse employees and done for Integrity’s benefit. Assuming, as we must, that these allegations are true, the plaintiffs have stated a plausible claim for relief.
Integrity allegedly requires the screening to prevent employee theft, a concern that stems from the nature of the employees’ work (specifically, their access to merchandise).
Busk and Castro alleged they were not “completely relieved from duty” because by placing the time clocks far from the lunchroom, Integrity forced upon them the “duty to walk to the lunch room in order to eat lunch.” But the district court correctly held that walking to the lunchroom is not a work duty. Walking to the lunchroom is not necessary to the plaintiffs’ principal work as warehouse employees. Moreover, though the Portal-to-Portal Act does not clearly preclude compensation for walking to the lunchroom, as it only expressly applies to walking before the workday starts
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Finally, the first amended complaint alleges that employees had to pass through a security clearance on their way to the lunchroom. Assuming that the time passing through the security clearance on the way to lunch constitutes compensable work, the time alleged in this case is de minimis. See Lindow v. United States, 738 F.2d 1057, 1062–64 (9th Cir. 1984) (discussing de minimis exception). As alleged in the first amended complaint, the walk to and from the cafeteria takes “approximately five minutes” each way, though employees pass through security only on their way to the cafeteria, not on the return trip. The relatively minimal time expended on the clearance in this context differs from the 25-minute delay alleged for employees passing through security at day’s end. Therefore, the district court correctly dismissed this claim under Rule 12(b)(6).