While it is understandable that certain retailers may want to submit their employers to security checks before allowing them to leave, whether or not the retailer is required to pay employees for that time is somewhat of a gray area. While a number of retailers have faced class action wage and hour lawsuits over time spent having their bags checked and waiting to have their bags checked, one such lawsuit includes employees at Amazon’s warehouses. Integrity Staffing Solutions, a staffing company which provides workers for Amazon.com warehouses across the country, argues that the security checks are not an “integral” part of the employees’ duties, and as such, is time for which the employer is not required to pay under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with this argument, citing the Portal-to-Portal Act. Because the FLSA does not specify the time for which employees must be paid, the Portal-to-Portal Act was created to do just that. According to the act, in order to be considered “integral and indispensable”, the relevant duties must be “necessary to the principal work performed” and “done for the benefit of the employer”. Since the security checks are required by the employer, and they benefit the employer by ensuring that employees do not walk off with company property, the checks are for the benefit of the employer and so the time spent conducting them must be compensated.
The attorneys for Integrity Staffing Solutions backed up their position by pointing to recent decisions by a U.S. District Court judge in Nevada which ruled in favor of the employers in similar lawsuits. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals argued that, in those cases, employees and visitors were subjected to the same standards, which puts the security checks under the category of required travel time, which is not time for which employers are required to pay their employees under the Portal-to-Portal Act. According to the appellate court, the key difference between those workers and the plaintiffs in the current wage and hour lawsuit is the scope of the requirements for the security checks. In this case, the complaint alleges that not everyone in the facility was subjected to the same security checks to which the class members were subjected.
Because of this difference in requirements for security checks, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the checks for the class members constituted duties which were “integral and indispensable”. The court therefore ruled in favor of the employees.
Integral Staffing Solutions appealed the decision and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case. The decision reached by the Supreme Court may provide some much-needed clarification regarding the undefined requirements of compensation for time spend conducting security checks and even traveling to and from work. Numerous wage and hour lawsuits have been filed regarding these topics. While the Department of Labor has issued opinions on these issues, the Department does not have legislative authority. The Supreme Court, on the other hand, can settle this issue for good.
The Chicago overtime lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against large retail chains such as Urban Outfitters, GAP, Abercrombie & Fitch, Limited, Forever 21, Macy’s, Target, JC Penney’s, Lowes, Best Buy, Home Depot, Apple, Best Buy, Sears, K Mart, J.C Penney, Walmart and other retail chains for misclassifying employees as managers, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim this practice call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.
The Illinois overtime attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have decades of experience fighting for wage earner’s rights. We have a team of overtime attorneys who focus on nationwide class action lawsuits and work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and prosecute claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Wheeling and Vernon Hills. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Waugegan and Cicero overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers misclassify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.
The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have not been paid for the overtime hours that they worked. If you believe that you are owed overtime wages, contact one of our Chicago class action attorneys by phone at (312) 869-4095 or through our online form.