Articles Posted in Security Breaks

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As technology continues to virtually eradicate the physical distances between us, more and more people are working from home, either as freelancers, or as employees for a company. The benefits of working from home are many and varied, particularly in the realm of work/life balance, but it also has the hazard of blurring the line between work and downtime. As the office has just recently moved into the home, employers and employees alike are still struggling to define that line between work time and personal time.

According to a recent class action wage and hour lawsuit against Sutherland Global Services Inc., the technology management services company allegedly violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by failing to pay its home-based customer service representatives for all the time they spent working.

The class action lawsuit was filed in spring of 2015 by two former employees of Sutherland on behalf of themselves and all other current and former home-based customer service representatives for the outsourcing company. The complaint alleges that, for every shift they work, the employees spend almost half an hour starting and shutting down company computers, applications, and servers. They were allegedly not paid for any of the time spent performing these tasks, but the complaint alleges that it all should have been compensable time. According to the wage and hour lawsuit, the time the employees spent performing these tasks provided a direct benefit to the employer because they were necessary to the employees being able to complete their work-related tasks throughout the rest of their shifts. Continue reading

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Retail chains all over the country have been hit with wage and hour class action lawsuits from employees alleging they should be paid for the time they’re made to spend waiting in line to have a manager check their bags for stolen merchandise before they can leave. Different courts have provided different rulings on this issue, making it difficult for the parties to predict which side the court will favor.

In 2014, two Coach employees, Eve M. and Lou A., filed separate wage and hour lawsuits against the luxury retailer for allegedly refusing to pay them for the time they spent waiting for a manager to complete the security check. The lawsuit alleges employees sometimes had to wait as long as half an hour before the check was completed and they were allowed to leave.

The lawsuits were filed in California and the courts combined the two complaints into one class action. The plaintiffs claim the class could include as many as 4,000 full-time and part-time sales associates who worked in Coach stores all over California any time between March 20, 2010 and May 3, 2016 and were affected by the alleged security checks. Based on these numbers, the plaintiffs filed for claims of $7.25 million. Continue reading

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In December 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the time employees spend in security checks and waiting in line for security checks at the end of their work shifts is not time they legally need to be compensated for under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). But in addition to the FLSA, each state has its own labor laws to regulate employment practices within the state, and some state laws do require employers to pay their workers for the time spent waiting in line for security checks.

One such class action lawsuit involves Amazon and SMX LLC, a temporary staffing agency Amazon uses to fill warehouse positions. The wage and hour lawsuit was filed in 2013 by Ladaisja B., David S., and Monica C., all of whom worked as packers in Amazon’s warehouse in San Bernardino, California. Continue reading

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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.

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It is a common practice for retail stores to check the bags of their employees for merchandise that the employees might be trying to take home with them illegally. However, since these bag checks are required by the employer, the employees must be paid for all of the time spent having their bags checked and waiting in line, if necessary. While this time may be only a few minutes, it can add up, day after day, to a significant loss of wages on the part of the employees. Several retail stores have already faced wage and hour class action lawsuits from employees who were not compensated for the time that they spent waiting to have their bags checked. Now Urban Outfitter is the latest retail store to face a lawsuit for allegedly failing to pay employees for the time it took to have their bags checked before they were allowed to leave.

According to the lead plaintiff, Zayda Santizo, she was a non-exempt hourly employee at Urban Outfitters and yet she and other hourly employees were allegedly required to have their bags checked outside of their normal schedules. While employees who qualify for one of the overtime exempt categories under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are required to stay until their work is done, however long that takes, all hourly employees must be paid the overtime rate of one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for all time that they spend working in excess of eight hours a day or forty hours a week. According to this most recent wage and hour lawsuit, the hourly non-exempt employees at Urban Outfitters were required by their employer to stay overtime to have their bags checked, but were not paid the proper overtime rate.

The complaint alleges that the pay stubs issued by Urban Outfitters were inaccurate because they did not reflect the time spent by employees waiting to have their bags checked. Under the FLSA, failure to provide employees with pay stubs which accurately reflect the time spent working and the wages earned by the employee is subject to certain penalties.

In addition to these violations of the FLSA, the wage and hour class action lawsuit also alleges that Urban Outfitters violated certain state statutes as laid out by California labor law.

The wage and hour lawsuit is seeking certification of three sub-classes of current and former employees of Urban Outfitters. The first proposed sub-class includes all employees who worked for Urban Outfitters “at any time beginning four years prior to the filing of the complaint through the date notice is mailed to the class.” According to the complaint, an estimated 400 employees have the potential to be eligible to fit into this first sub-class.

The second proposed subclass includes all workers “whose employment by [Urban
Outfitters] ended within three years of filing the complaint.” The third proposed sub-class includes all workers “whose employment with [Urban Outfitters] included any period of time during the period beginning one year from the date of the filing of this action.” The complaint estimates at least 200 employees have the potential to qualify for one of these last two alleged sub-classes.

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