ACtion Magazine - May 2015 - (Page 10)

I Court ruling impacts time 'on the clock' n the case of Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk decided in December 2014, a unanimous United States Supreme Court ruled that an employer does not have to compensate its hourly wage employees for time spent waiting for and actually going through a security screening before leaving work. The employees in that case were responsible for retrieving and packaging products in a warehouse for delivery to customers of Under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (the "FLSA"), an employee is entitled to be paid for each hour worked during a workweek, including overtime pay for each hour worked in excess of forty hours during that period. A workweek under the FLSA includes all of the time that an employee is required to be on the employer's premises, on duty or at a prescribed workplace. After passage of the FLSA, Congress passed the Portal-to-Portal Act which contains exemptions for employers from liability for wage claims which are based upon two categories of work-related activities. One category is walking, riding, or traveling to and from the place where the employee will be performing his/her principal work activity required by the job. The second category covers activities that are preliminary to or postliminary to the employee's principal work activity(ies). In interpreting whether or not an activity is within the foregoing second category of exempt activities, the Supreme Court indicated that an activity must be an integral and indispensable part of the principal activity in order to be included within the term principal activity (and therefore compensable under the FLSA). For an activity to be an integral and indispensable part of an employee's principal activity, the activity must be one that an employee cannot dispense with if he/she is to perform his/ " 10 ACTION * May 2015 ...activity must be an integral and indispensable part of the principal activity... her principal activities. The activity for which an employee is seeking compensation for the time spent on said activity must be an intrinsic element of the principal activity(ies). An example used by the Supreme Court in its decision is the illustration of an employee in a chemical plant who has to change his/her clothes as part of the job. If the changing of the clothes is necessary for an employee to be able to perform the principal activities of the job, then the time spent changing clothes would be compensable under the FLSA. However, if the changing of the clothes was found to be simply a matter of convenience to the employee, then the time spent would not be compensable. In the Busk case, the Supreme Court found the time spent waiting for and actually going through the security screening was noncompensable because the screenings were not the prin- Reader Reply Keith Leonard, Esquire cipal activity to be performed by the employees who commenced the litigation. Such screenings are not an intrinsic element of the job of retrieving and packaging products for shipment. In order to do those jobs, an employee can dispense with the screening process. Instead, the screening process was simply connected to the job and required by the employer to prevent theft. The time spent involved in a search process at your job, whether the search is conducted for employee safety or theft prevention purposes, will not be compensable. The Supreme Court ruled that it is irrelevant to the compensation issue that an employer requires a particular activity. Similarly, the Court held that it is irrelevant that an employer could take steps to reduce the time spent on such a postliminary activity. The focus instead should be on productive work that an employee has been employed to perform and whether or not the activity at issue is an indispensable element of that work. Though a unanimous decision, two Justices added a concurring opinion to the decision (agreeing with the result but not necessarily all of the reasons for the conclusion reached by the Court). The concurring Justices believe that some employee activities related to worker safety and efficiency are compensable activities such as the time spent by meatpackers sharpening their knives. Both employers and employees should be mindful of this decision with respect to the essential elements of the job being performed by the employees at a particular workplace. An employer needs to be aware if any of the activities performed by their employees before and after the workday is compensable or not. If not, a court may decide the issue for the employer. ❆ Remember that laws are constantly changing and are often not uniform throughout the United States. Do not place unqualified reliance on the information in this article. Always contact legal counsel for detailed advice. If you have a particular issue, law or problem you would like to see addressed in a future column, please contact me at KLeonard@LeonardSciolla. com, or Leonard, Sciolla, Hutchison, Leonard & Tinari, LLP, 215-567-1530.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ACtion Magazine - May 2015

Tool and equipment review
MACS mobile A/C training is everywhere
Service Port
Leonard's Law
Virtual View
Last Watch
By the numbers
Industry News
Association News
In Memoriam

ACtion Magazine - May 2015