Have you ever thought you did something, but never did? I am not talking about the recent admission and apology of NBC anchor Brian Williams who mistakenly claimed to have taken enemy fire while in a helicopter covering the Iraq war twelve years ago. I am talking about something less significant; something that can legitimately just slip your mind.
I thought I had blogged about the Amazon overtime case pending at the U. S. Supreme Court. It turns out the blog never made it past the draft stage, and I mistakenly thought I had posted it. I was watching the case filed by Amazon warehouse workers to see how the Court would handle a new overtime twist. Amazon requires warehouse employees to pass through security at the end of each shift as an anti-theft measure. Some employees reportedly have waited in security lines for as long as 25 minutes, before they are free to leave work. The employees filed suit seeking overtime compensation for the time they spend waiting in the security lines.
Justice Thomas ruled the time spent in security screenings was not “integral and indispensable” to the warehouse workers jobs, which involved retrieving products and packaging them for Amazon customers. This was a big decision as more retailers today are requiring security screening of employees to help reduce employee theft. The Court unanimously held fast to the 1947 “Portal to Portal Act” which indicates employers are not responsible to pay employees for preparation activities both before and after work. Employers are only responsible for such preparation activities if they are “integral and indispensable” parts of the principal work of the employee.
Employers should properly pay employees overtime when it is due, but as the Supreme Court sets forth, not everything is compensable time.