Supreme Court to workers: Drop dead

U.S. top court rejects worker pay for security-screening time

Not sure if this should be in the Pit instead of here. Posters, feel free to rant as desired. Mods, move to Pit if indicated.

Amazon warehouse employees (actually, employees of a temp agency) are required to go through security screening when they leave their shift, to prevent shoplifting by employees. They don’t get paid for the time it takes them to do this. They have sued over this.

Amazon claims it only takes 90 seconds to screen an employee. Employees point out that they have to wait in line up to 30 minutes every day to be screened. They want to be paid for that time.

The case has gone all the way to the Supreme Court, and their verdict is in now.

Court to employees: Go suck pickles, you losers.

Sigh. I just can’t wait for the joy that will be this court’s decision on the pregnancy discrimination case.

Well, this court’s majority is made up of Knuckleheaded RATSKennedy, Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Scalia, so none of the sociopathic, inhumane shit decisions they make surprise me any more.

Pretty displeased that the four semi-sensible members of the Court also went along with this canard, though.

Why the discrepancy between 90 seconds & 30 minutes? Is it that it only takes 90 seconds once you get to the front of the line, which you had to wait in for 30 minutes?

Seems like a certain Justice is in a alternate reality. No it’s not part of the principal activity, but they won’t let you do your principal activity unless you go thru security at the end, so it sounds to me like it’s a part of the job. :dubious:

He’s a black Repiglickin’. Anyone of that sort not only is in an alternate reality, they are encamped there. :smack:

Well, this doesn’t appear to have been a ruling on any constitutional issue; it was just statutory interpretation. So all it should require is a quick Act of Congress to amend the federal labor laws to make it clear that (unlike time spent commuting to and from work) an end-of-the day security screening that’s required by the company is still on the clock.

So, yeah, workers are screwed.

If you read the actual opinion - and keep in mind this was a unanimous decision - it doesn’t appear they had much of a choice. As originally written the FLSA would have allowed exactly this type of suit to win, but congress stepped in - after over 1500 suits were filed that sought over $6 billion dollars in 1947. The wrote another law that specifically exempted certain types of activities. This new law has since been interpretated by the courts, the Solicitor General of the United States, and the department of labor as specifically not including security screenings.

I am not in anyway saying this is right - I am just saying the law on this seems pretty clear. I only read like the first few pages of the decision - the appellate court (the one in between SCOTUS and District - did reverse and held that more or less the Amazon contractor was at fault). So at least some judges disagree with the Supreme Court, and I didn’t read their decision - so I don’t get why they thought this - cause it seem pretty clear cut in the first few pages this looks like a slam dunk.

Again - all the justices decided this way (although I didn’t read the concurring opinion - so they may have done so for a different reason).

Again - not fair - but when congress goes out of their way to rewrite a law (or rather pass a new one) - then they have no choice but to take this legislative history into account. Congress seemed to do it for just these types of reasons. The existing Case Law seems clear - the Supreme Court can decide to overrule that - but that takes a very high burden - which I don’t think was met (again didn’t read the whole thing).

There may be other remedies available to the plaintiffs under state law.

I don’t understand - Scalia et al. decided as they did because they are sociopaths, evil, etc. The more liberal members make exactly the same decision for the same reasons. Why are they not also sociopaths and evil?


This isn’t the Pit, or GD. Dial it back, pls.

I can’t open pdfs at work. Did the concurring opinion use the same reasons?

Thanks to you both for the cogent clarifications. So, there’s hope; all we need are Dem majorities and administration. It can also be handled at the state level.

BTW, I’m a fiscal conservative. I don’t believe in throwing money at problems and hoping they’ll go away. I don’t like disincentives for productive behavior. I am a big advocate of free markets, albeit with appropriate laws and regulations to handle externalities. I’m not certain the Austrian School is correct, but what they say makes a lot of sense (though I see valid arguments on the other side).

But IMHO, this is Just Plain Wrong, because it causes waste. It wastes employees’ time, with little incentive for the party that could EASILY fix the problem to fix it. I’m willing to wager that if Amazon had lost the legal battle, they’d compensate by having staggered shift start/stop times, to minimize queues at the security stations, or adding stations, etc., all at a tiny fraction of the cost of the wasted human labor.

I buy a lot on Amazon, but nothing I couldn’t get elsewhere. If anyone hears of a boycott regarding this, let me know! I’ll happily stop using Amazon until they fix this, if there’s any organization for it (so that it might actually be effective).

However, first I’d like to know what the average time is. The NYT article says “approaching 30 minutes” but it isn’t clear whether that’s the worst case or the average. Regardless, if Amazon paid for the time, they’d optimize it.

IMHO, the fix for the 1947 law was wrong. Rather than exempt employers from this completely, they should have phased in compliance slowly. That way businesses could plan ahead and minimize the cost, but have the end goal of being legally required to pay employees for what they require employees to do.

It might be fun to start a test-case business where employees are paid only four hours for an 8-hour day, due to all the requirements the employer imposes on getting ready to work. Since the law doesn’t place any restrictions on how reasonable these requirements might be, SCOTUS would have to stand by its decision.

According to the NYT article,

Employees can skip the screenings? Exactly how does Sotomayor think that’s possible? Theres no way anyone is getting out of that building without being searched. Refusing to be searched would be a red flag and they’d probably call security and eventually the cops.

This isn’t new. A lot of jobs require coming in early or leaving late. Nurses report a few minutes early and are briefed on patients before the shift change. Shift changes always take a few minutes to clock out and other procedures.

She didn’t say they could skip the screenings and not get fired or face disciplinary action. What she said was that the screenings do not contribute to safety or effectiveness at their actual job - which the nurses’ briefings clearly do. And when those extra minutes contribute to safety or effectiveness, it’s work time and the employees must be paid.

Then again, they now have a Supreme Court decision stating that security procedures are not an intrinsic part of the job, so if they get fired for violating those procedures, they get to sue.

From LearJeff’s cite, it looks like Sotomayor’s comments about the duties were in her concurrence, not the decision. I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think her concurrence constitutes the kind of precedent you’re talking about.

This is silly. Of course they should be paid while they are at their workplace, doing things that are required as part of their jobs.

Many years ago, I worked at a department store. It was known far and wide as a company that was always in financial trouble, always looking for ways to pay their employees less and cut corners wherever possible. (Okay, it was Montgomery Ward!) Anyway, even THOSE cheapskates had a 5-minute paid “grace period” from when you clocked in until when you were expected to be at your workstation working. Because, you know, it would take a few minutes to walk from the time clock to your department!

During the holiday season, there would frequently be a lot of seasonal employees, though the running joke was that they were certainly not seasoned. The store would shift from skeleton crew to fully-staffed, and a lot of the new hires would get busted for stealing. So it became commonplace to have Loss Prevention standing by the time clock during November and December, checking people’s purses and pockets when employees were leaving in the evenings.

They would never have dreamed of having people clock out and then expect them to sit there unpaid while they checked and inspected and made everyone feel like a criminal.

So instead of making sure that their employees aren’t stealing from them, Amazon is basically stealing (time) from THEM, instead? And everyone’s okay with that? :confused:

Didn’t read the entire thread, but the first thing I thought of, is what if it took 3 hours to “get checked out of work”? 6 hours?

Just what amount of “non work” time can an employer demand you wait, after work, and the court still would rule in favor of the employer?

I imagine that nurses clock in when they get there. Back in the Stone Age when I was a CNA, I clocked in, then was briefed/picked up supplies/whatever. Working retail, I clocked in when I got there and when I left.

I hate to do it, but I might have to also boycott Amazon over this if there’s a boycott. Dammit, I might have to shop again!

I’ve done clinical rotations at two hospitals and in both the Respiratory therapists for the day shift are expected to be ready to work and clocked in at 6:45 so they have 15 minutes to discuss patients before the night shift leaves at 7. There’s no way the hospitals would not pay them for that 15 minutes.