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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Supreme Court Rules Against Worker Pay for Security Waits at Amazon Warehouses

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously ruled that a temp agency was not required to pay workers at Amazon warehouses for the time they spent waiting to go through a security screening at the end of the day. The workers say the process, meant to prevent theft, can take as long as 25 minutes.
Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the court, said the screenings were not “integral and indispensable” to the workers’ jobs, which involved retrieving products from warehouse shelves and packaging them for delivery to Amazon’s customers. That meant, he said, that no extra pay was required.
The decision was a big loss for workers challenging the security checks, which are common among retailers. According to a brief filed by the agency, there have been 13 class-action lawsuits against Amazon and other companies involving more than 400,000 plaintiffs and seeking hundreds of millions of dollars.
The case that the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday turned on the meaning of a 1947 law, the Portal-to-Portal Act, which says that companies need not pay for “preliminary” or “postliminary” activities, meaning ones that take place before and after the workday proper. The Supreme Court interpreted the law in 1956 in Steiner v. Mitchell to require pay only for tasks that are an “integral and indispensable part of the principal activities for which covered workmen are employed.”
The case decided Tuesday was brought by Jesse...
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