U.S. Supreme Court Grants Cert. in FLSA Security Screening Case

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On March 3, 2014, the Supreme Court granted a petition for certiorari in Busk v. Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc., No. 11-16892 (9th Cir. April 12, 2013) (slip opinion available here). The Court will resolve the issue of whether time spent in security screenings is compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), as amended by the Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947 (certiorari petition available here).

Busk involves claims by warehouse employees for back pay, overtime, and double damages under the FLSA for time spent in post-shift security screenings. The district court dismissed the employees’ claims, holding that security screenings are typical “preliminary” or “postliminary” activities, and are thus non-compensable under the FLSA pursuant to the Portal-to-Portal Act. The Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that time spent in post-shift security screenings was compensable under the FLSA because the screenings were “require[d]” by the employer, “necessary to employees’ primary work as warehouse employees,” and performed for the employer’s benefit in preventing employee theft. Slip op. at 11. In its cert petition, Defendant argued that the Ninth Circuit’s holding conflicts with decisions from the Second and Eleventh Circuits, which have ruled that time spent in security screenings is not subject to the FLSA because it is not “integral and indispensable” to employees’ principal job activities.

How the Supreme Court rules on this case should have a significant impact on the liability of employers who require employees to pass through security screenings before or after a shift.