Court: Screening Workers Going Home Doesn’t Count as Work Time

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© chasingmoments - Fotolia.com

By John E. Thompson

The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday found that the time non-exempt employees spent in connection with an end-of-workday security screening before leaving the premises did not count as worktime under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

Instead, it said, the time so spent was non-compensable “postliminary” activity under the federal Portal-to-Portal Act.

Among other things, the Supreme Court said that:

  • The screenings were not themselves “principal activities” that the employees were employed to perform;
  • The screenings neither were an integral part of nor were indispensable to the employees’ principal activities;
  • Whether the employer required these activities or realized a benefit from them were not the relevant questions; and,
  • Whether the employer could have arranged things so that the screenings took less time had nothing to do with the fundamental nature of the screening activities.

Interestingly, the U.S. Department of Labor had argued in favor of the position the Supreme Court ultimately adopted.

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For a full summary of today’s ruling, read our Labor Alert.

This was originally published on Fisher & Phillips’ Wage and Hour Laws blog.

John Thompson is a partner in the Atlanta office of the law firm Fisher & Phillips. His practice focuses on wage and hour law, assisting employers in preventive efforts designed to ensure compliance, and he handles both investigations conducted by government agencies and litigation in the wage and hour area. John has served as a Special Assistant Attorney General for wage-hour matters for the State of Georgia. Contact him at jthompson@laborlawyers.com.

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