One of Amazon’s newest distribution centers in Tracy, Calif., is seen during a tour Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014. This Amazon Fulfillment Center opened in 2013 and was refitted to use new robot technology in the summer of 2014. All year Amazon has been investing in ways to make shipping faster and easier to prepare for this holiday season. At this Northern California warehouse the company is employing robotics and other new technology to help workers process the annual onslaught of shopping orders. (AP Photo/Brandon Bailey)
Employees are not entitled to compensation for the time they spend undergoing mandatory security screenings at the end of their work shift, according to a recent, and unanimous Supreme Court decision.
The decision in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk overturns an appeals court decision which found in favor of workers employed by Integrity Staffing at an Amazon.com distribution warehouse in Nevada, and who had to pass through a security checkpoint after each shift to deter theft.
The court held that passing through the security checkpoints, while mandatory, was not an “integral and indispensable part” of the “principal activities” for which the warehouse workers were hired.
“Integrity Staffing did not employ its workers to undergo security screenings, but to retrieve products from warehouse shelves and package those products for shipment to Amazon customers,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in defense of why Integrity Staffing was not required by law to pay employees for the time spent waiting to pass through post-shift security checkpoints, a process that sometimes takes as long as 25 minutes.
This Oct. 18, 2010 file photo shows an Amazon.com package on a UPS truck in Palo Alto, Calif. The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that warehouse workers who fill orders for retail giant Amazon don’t have to be paid for time spent waiting to pass through security checks at the end of their shifts. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)
The workers argued that Integrity Staffing could have reduced the amount of time it took to pass through such checkpoints by adding more screeners or staggering the ends of shifts.
“These arguments are properly presented to the employer at the bargaining table,” wrote Thomas, “not to a court in a claim.”
Amazon is set to open a distribution warehouse in Baltimore next year. Incoming freshman delegate Cory McCray (D) of the 45th district, himself a labor organizer, said the Supreme Court’s ruling highlights the need to protect workers’ rights.
“The Amazon ruling is a major blow to working men and women in all industries,” said McCray. “We as a community must never forget our right to organize or form a union to bargain with our employer for better wages, respectable healthcare, dependable retirement options, and most of all our working conditions.