The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal of an unpaid overtime lawsuit that could affect millions of workers across the country that go through security screenings and perform other “off the clock” duties. The case involves two workers who sued their employer for unpaid overtime after they were required to go through security screenings at work but not compensated for the time they spent doing so. The employees, who worked at a warehouse that shipped retail goods, were required to finish their shifts, clock out, then pass through security checkpoints to ensure that they had not stolen any merchandise. They sometimes had to wait as long as twenty-five minutes to pass through these checkpoints. The case is Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc v. Jesse Busk and Laurie Castro, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 13-433.
The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that most employees be paid one-and-a-half times their regular rate of pay for each hour worked above forty in a given week. The Portal-To-Portal Act of 1947 amended the FLSA to make it clear that “preliminary” and “postliminary” activities aren’t covered, but within a decade, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that pre- and postliminary activities were covered if they were “integral and indispensable” to a worker’s main duties. The plaintiffs in the Integrity Staffing case allege that they should have been paid overtime for this time that they were required to spend waiting to pass through security at the job site. Their employer claims that they are not entitled to unpaid overtime because going through the security screening wasn’t an integral part of their jobs. Such security screenings are common in a variety of industries, as employers have implemented such measures to reduce loss of inventory.
A ruling by the Supreme Court on this overtime pay lawsuit will provide clarity for workers and employers in an area that is murky. “Off the clock” work has become more prominent over the past decade, as employers ask their workers to perform more duties for the same amount of pay. Meal breaks, rest breaks, travel time and working remotely are some common methods employers use to require their workers to do more without receiving overtime pay. Any worker that is required to travel without pay, take mandatory unpaid breaks, or perform duties at home or “off-the-clock” should consult with an overtime pay attorney to determine whether such a practice complies with federal law. If not, the worker could be entitled to thousands of dollars in unpaid overtime, liquidated damages and attorney’s fees. I represent workers on claims of unpaid overtime. If you have questions regarding overtime pay, call me at 817.908.9861 or 432.242.7118 or complete my contact form for a free consultation.