Posts Tagged ‘compensable time.’

High Court Rules Workers Not Entitled to Pay for Time Spent Going Through Security Screening

Employers don’t have to pay employees for time spent going through a mandatory anti-theft security screen, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today. In a 9-0 ruling, the justices held that these employees aren’t entitled to be paid for this time under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The case involved warehouse employees at two Nevada facilities that serve customers. At the end of their shifts, the employees had to spend up to 25 minutes in the security screens to make sure they weren’t stealing merchandise.

The employees argued that this should be considered paid work time as it was “necessary” to their primary work duties and done solely for the employer’s benefit.

But the justices, in an opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas, ruled that the workers hadn’t shown that the security screens were “integral and indispensable” to their principal work activity of fulfilling the customers’ online orders.

The ruling in Integrity Staffing Solutions Inc. v. Busk is here.

Poultry Workers Not Entitled to Pay for Changing Into and out of Work Clothes, 7th Circuit Says

Employees at a poultry processing plant are bound by their union’s agreement with management not to pay them for time changing into and out of work clothing, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled earlier this month.

The ruling tosses the employees’ claim that the denial of pay violated overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law.

The employees are required prior to working to put on a sterilized jacket, plastic apron, cut‐resistant gloves, plastic sleeves, earplugs, and a hairnet. They must remove this sanitary gear at the start of their half‐hour lunch break and put it back on before returning to work. They are not compensated for the time spent changing.

Affirming a lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit, the Seventh Circuit noted that a provision of the FLSA excludes compensation for “any time spent in changing clothes at the beginning or end of each workday which was excluded from measured working time … by the express terms of or by custom or practice under a bona fide collective‐ bargaining agreement applicable to the particular employee.” The cause of amicable labor relations would be impaired by reading broadly laws that remove wage and hour issues from the scope of collective bargaining, the court wrote. Employer and union in this case agreed not to count the tiny changing times as compensated work. The plaintiffs were trying to upend the deal struck by their own union, the court said.

The ruling is Mitchell v. JCG Industries and is available here.

Workers Not Entitled to Be Paid For Time Spent Donning Protective Gear, High Court Holds

For devotees of public television’s Downton Abbey, donning and doffing of clothing is something that the estate’s residences do–or more likely have the servants do for them.  Lord Grantham would never demand being paid for putting on his clothing. Nor would he need to.

The situation is somewhat different under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which has a provision excusing employers from having to pay their workers for “changing clothing” if it’s agreed on that provision with the workers’ union.

Today a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled that steelworkers are not entitled to compensation for time putting on and taking off various pieces of protective clothing.

Writing for the unanimous court, Justice Anton Scalia went straight to the dictionary, specifically the definition of “clothes” as that term is used in FLSA Section 203(o).

Scalia said that clothes denotes items that are both designed and used to cover the body and commonly regarded as articles of dress.

So, putting on protective gear is still clothing, and so is substituting or altering one’s dress.

I wrote about the oral argument in the case in November, and when the court agreed to review the case last year.

You can download the text of today’s ruling in Sandifer v. U.S. Steel from the SCOTUS blog.