Question about "The Profit - Standard Burger"

In one of the progress reports on “The Profit” he goes back to an earlier investment he took on - a burger joint named Standard Burger.

Wow, was that manager messed up…

But I’m not really asking about that, my question was that at one point he mentions how much nicer the parking lot looks, and the manager mentions that every employee is required to walk the lot and pick up trash BEFORE CLOCKING IN.

Isn’t that illegal? You can’t tell (or even ask, really) your employees to do off-the-clock work. I think the biggest exception to this is the security scans people have to go through at the Amazon.com warehouses, but that’s not really “work.” I am surprised Marcus, with all of his business knowledge, didn’t know that it was shady to do that.

The place is located in NYC, I believe, on Staten Island. Is requiring your employees to clean up the parking lot before clocking in legal?

No. I suppose the employees could be credited for some time to clean up the parking lot, but unpaid work is not allowed in any state I’ve heard of, and lawsuits against the employers usually prevail. The Buffalo Bills cheerleaders are currently involved in such a lawsuit.

The Supreme Court just ruled that Amazon doesn’t have to pay its warehouse workers for their time spent going through security screening before and after work. I imagine this would fall under the same idea.

It doesn’t. The Court found in that case that the security screenings (after their shift, not before) were essentially part of the worker’s commute, and not part of their actual necessary work duties. But the boss telling you to straighten up the parking lot is definitely part of the duties of your job working at that place.

I remember that scene causing me to raise my eyebrow quite a bit as well. It’s my hope that he misspoke and meant they have to clean up the parking lot before beginning their normal duties. But my guess is that he didn’t, and workers were in fact spending a minute or two doing work before clocking in. Given that it’s a fairly small business and it probably only takes people a couple minutes, it would probably be overlooked. But it’s not a good way to run things.

I don’t understand how a boss telling you to submit to a search isn’t also part of your job duties. It’s not part of their commute at all. So I’m not seeing how this is different. The boss says “part of your commute will be spent picking up trash in the parking lot” or “part of your commute is going through security”. Or he says “part of your job is picking up trash” or “part of your job is going through security”. You can frame it either way, but I’m not sure I can tell the functional difference between them.

Has it been tested in court to see whether picking up trash outside counts as work or a commute?

I would assume that their thinking is similar to what DrCube lays out.

Like requiring a server to wear a three piece suit and get ready at home you could say that and employee is not ready for duty unless they brought in a couple of pieces of trash. Sure it takes a minute or two longer to get ready for work but its a requirement to be ready for work rather then what they do during the day.

Did you bother to read his cite?

I did. Did you? It makes no mention of picking up trash in the parking lot before your shift, and what it does say seems to apply equally well to both scenarios. If your “primary duties” are to cook burgers and operate a cash register, picking up trash is not an “integral and indispensable part of the principal activities for which covered workmen are employed.”

In fact, it seems like it very much like this exact scenario is what SCOTUS ruled was “noncompensable”.

If your employer says that picking up trash is how they must egress their place of work, then they don’t have to pay their employees for that time.

Sounds like that applies to picking up trash to me.

Personally, I feel that if you can eliminate something and it doesn’t affect your employee’s work, then you should just eliminate it, rather than force them to do it without pay. But I’m not a Supreme Court Justice, so what do I know?

If your employer says that making a few hamburgers is how they must egress their place of work, then they don’t have to pay their employees for that time.

As long as that’s not their “primary job duty”, I suppose.

This is what I don’t get about the ruling. It seems to say that if I want my employees to regale me with a jaunty tune or juggle and do cartwheels for half an hour before they can leave work, that it’s perfectly hunky dory not to pay them for that time, so long as it isn’t the main reason I hired them.