The United States Supreme Court held in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, No. 13-433 (December 9, 2014), that an employer was not required to pay warehouse workers for wait time and for time spent undergoing anti-theft security screenings. The Court ruled that these activities were not principal activities that the employees were hired to perform, nor were they “integral and dispensable” to those activities, and, therefore, they were not compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Integrity Staffing required its warehouse workers, at the end of each shift, to undergo security screenings that included removal of personal articles and passing through a metal detector. The Supreme Court held that the security screening were not “integral and dispensable” to the warehouse workers’ duties of selecting and packaging products for shipment. The Court noted that activities that are “preliminary” or “postliminary” to an employee’s principal activities are not compensable unless the activities are an “integral and indispensable part of the principal activities.” The Supreme Court held that an activity is “integral and dispensable” if the activity is an “intrinsic element of those activities and one with which the employee cannot dispense if he is to perform his principal activities.” The Court noted that Integrity Staffing could have eliminated the screenings without impairing the warehouse workers’ ability to complete their work. In addressing the fact that the screenings were a required activity, the Court stated that the “integral and dispensable” test is “tied to the productive work that the employee is employed to perform” and not related to whether the employer required the activity. Finally, even though the warehouse workers spent up to twenty-five minutes waiting to go through security, the Court rejected the warehouse workers’ argument that they should be compensated for wait time because the employer could have reduced that time to a de minimis amount. The Court held that the fact that the employer could have reduced the wait time “does not change the nature of the activity or its relationship to the principal activities that an employee is employed to perform.”