RESPONDENT: Jesse Busk, et al.
LOCATION: Amazon.com Warehouse
DOCKET NO.: 13-433
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2010-2016)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
CITATION: 574 US (2014)
GRANTED: Mar 03, 2014
ARGUED: Oct 08, 2014
DECIDED: Dec 09, 2014
Curtis E. Gannon - Assistant to the Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the United States as amicus curiae supporting the petitioner
Paul D. Clement - for the petitioner
Mark R. Thierman - for the respondent
Facts of the case
Jesse Busk and Laurie Castro were former employees of Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. (Integrity), a company that provides warehouse space and staffing to clients such as Amazon.com. Busk and Laurie both worked in warehouses in Nevada filling orders placed by Amazon.com customers. At the end of each day, all the workers were required to pass through a security clearance checkpoint where they had to remove their keys, wallets, and belts, pass through a metal detector, and submit to being searched. The whole process could take up to 25 minutes. Similarly, up to ten minutes of the workers' 30-minute lunch period was consumed by security clearance and transition time. In 2010, Busk and Castro sued Integrity and argued that these practices violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as well as Nevada state labor laws.
The district court granted Integrity's motion to dismiss and held that time spent clearing security was non-compensable under the FLSA and that the shortened meal periods were not relevant to the FLSA because the plaintiffs did not argue that they performed work-related duties during their lunch periods. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part. While the Court of Appeals agreed that the shortened lunch periods were not relevant to the FLSA, the Court of Appeals held that the district court should have assessed the plaintiffs claims that the security clearances were "integral and indispensable" to their work in order to determine if that time was compensable.
Is time spent undergoing security clearances compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act as amended by the Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947?
Media for Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. BuskAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 08, 2014 in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - December 09, 2014 in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk
John G. Roberts, Jr.:
Justice Thomas has our opinion in Case 13-433, Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk.
This case comes to us on a writ of certiorari through the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Petitioner Integrity Staffing Solutions provides warehouse staffing to Amazon.com.
Respondents Jesse Busk and Laurie Castro worked for Integrity Staffing, retrieving products from warehouse shelves and packaging them for shipment to Amazon customers.
At the end of each day they were required to undergo a mandatory anti-theft security screening.
Busk and Castro filed this putative class action, seeking compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act, for the time they spent waiting for and undergoing these screenings.
The District Court dismissed the complaint, explaining that the Portal-to-Portal Act exempted employers from suits based on a failure to compensate employees for activities like these, which take place at the end of the productive workday.
The Ninth Circuit reversed.
In an opinion filed with the clerk today we now reverse the judgment of the Ninth Circuit.
The Portal-to-Portal Act exempts employers from liability for failing to compensate employees for “activities” which are preliminary to or postliminary to the principal activity or activities an employee is employed to perform.
We have interpreted the term principal activity or activities to embrace not only the principal activities the employee is employed to perform, but also all activities that are integral to and indispensable to those principal activities.
An activity is integral to and indispensable to if it is an intrinsic element of the activities an employee is employed to perform and is one with which the employee cannot dispense if he is to perform those principal activities.
The security screenings are neither.
Integrity Staffing employed its workers to retrieve products from warehouse shelves and package them for shipment.
The screenings are not an intrinsic element of those activities and Integrity Staffing could have eliminated the screenings altogether without impairing the employees’ ability to complete their work.
For these reasons and others set forth in our opinion, we reverse the judgment of the Ninth Circuit.
The opinion of the Court is unanimous.
Justice Sotomayor has filed a concurring opinion, in which Justice Kagan has joined.