|On Tuesday, Dec. 9, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a temp agency did not have to pay Amazon warehouse personnel for the time it took to pass through a security screening at the end of their work day.
According to the New York Times, these security screenings were intended to prevent theft and could take as long as 25 minutes. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the ruling that these screenings weren’t “integral and indispensable” to personnel’s jobs, and thus didn’t require payment.
Security screenings like these are common at retail warehouses in which personnel handle products that can be easily stolen, the New York Times reports.
Traditionally, personnel were not paid for these screenings, which led to 13 class-action lawsuits filed against Amazon and other companies like CVS and Apple. More than 400,000 plaintiffs sought hundreds of millions in payment for the time spent going through the screenings.
While the Supreme Court’s ruling will undoubtedly save warehouses millions in labor costs, Mark Thierman, the former Amazon employees’ lawyer, called the decision “disappointing” and “bad for working men and women.”
According to CNet, the Supreme Court’s decision overturned that of a lower court that would have required Amazon and other warehouse-reliant companies to compensate their workers for the time spent going through security checks.
However, according to the Supreme Court, the personnel had not been hired to stand in lines, meaning these security checks weren’t an integral part of their jobs. Federal law mandates that employers only need to pay their personnel for activities that are part of their work.
“The searches were part of the process by which the employees egressed their place of work, akin to checking in and out and waiting in line to do so,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote.
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