Security screening has become more common over the past decade, both to promote security for some employers and to deter employee theft for others. A growing issue in wage and hour law, at least until this morning, was whether the time spent in that screening was compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act. In Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, Case No. 13-433 (U.S. S. Ct. December 9, 2014), a unanimous United States Supreme Court held that it was not.
We’ve blogged about some of the prior litigation in this arena, including lawsuits against clothing retailer Urban Outfitters and Apple, which you can read about here. These suits were fueled, at least in part, by the Ninth Circuit’s 2013 decision in Busk v. Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc., Case No. 11-16882 (9th Cir. 2013), in which the court addressed claims by a putative class of workers employed at a warehouse used to ship products for Amazon.com. The crux of their claim was that they had to undergo a security screening as they left work as part of an effort to prevent employee theft. According to the plaintiffs, those security screenings could take upward of 25 minutes, as employees had to wait to remove their keys, belts, and wallets and then go through metal detectors before leaving the facility. They also asserted that the employer could have reduced the time spent waiting, even to de minimus levels, by adding more screeners or staggering quitting times. Interestingly, the district court dismissed the case without discovery under Rule 12(b)(6), finding that the complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. It also held that, in any case, the plaintiffs could not simultaneously proceed with a Rule 23 class action under Nevada law and an FLSA section 16(b) (29 U.S.C. § 216(b)) collective action.