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Supreme Court to Hear Unpaid Wages Claim

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Washington, DCUnpaid wages lawsuits involve a variety of claims that employees have not been paid for the work they do. In some cases, unpaid wages claims involve overtime hours not being paid, while in other cases the complaint is about off-the-clock work. One area of unpaid wages litigation that has been in the news lately is that involving security checks for employees - when employees are forced to wait after shifts or at the start of breaks to undergo security checks to ensure they are not stealing from their employer.

One such lawsuit was filed against Amazon by workers at an Amazon warehouse in Nevada. According to Reuters (3/3/14), the workers were required to go through security checks that, in some cases, added up to 30 minutes to their time at work. The workers filed a lawsuit arguing that under the Fair Labor Standards Act, they should be paid for that time.

Integrity Staffing Solutions, the third-party contractor that hired temporary workers at the warehouse, argued that security screenings are not a regular part of the employees’ work tasks and are no different from waiting to pick up a paycheck or walking to the workplace from the parking lot.

According to Mondaq (3/4/14), under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees must be paid for any activities that are considered integral to the duties they were hired for. Activities that are not integral to those principal duties do not require compensation.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case after a lower court found in favor of the workers and allowed the lawsuit to proceed. The Ninth Circuit court determined that security clearance checks are compensable time because they are required by the employer and because they benefit the employer. Integrity, however, argued that the Ninth Circuit’s decision would affect thousands of employers by requiring those employers “to modify their time-keeping systems or eliminate security screening altogether,” according to court documents.

The question for the Supreme Court to sort out is whether time spent waiting for security checks is time that employees should be paid for, under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The lawsuit is Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc v. Jesse Busk and Laurie Castro, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 13-433.

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