The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulates hours and wages for American workers on the federal level. FLSA requires that all employers must pay employees at least the federal (or state if it is higher) minimum wage for all hours worked. Additionally, if an employee works over 40 hours in one week, he or she must receive time and a half wages for any overtime hours.
“Time worked” is an oft debated topic in employment cases. For example, many employees may have to complete tasks before or after a scheduled shift in order to prepare for a shift or clean up afterward. In numerous cases, employees have claimed they should get paid for pre- or post-work activities that were required for their jobs, and the courts generally agreed with this. Furthermore, if an employee has an eight-hour shift each day and adds on time before and after the shift for necessary activities, that employee deserves to be compensated at the time-and-half overtime rate for the additional activities. For this reason, employers often wish to avoid compensating employees for this extra time worked.
Activities Excluded From Compensable Time
Not all pre- and post-work activities have been included in compensable time, however. For example, employees may not count the following when reporting their work hours:
· Waiting to pick up a paycheck;
· Waiting in line to punch a time clock (in or out);
· Traveling from home to work;
· Walking from the car in the parking lot to the building or job site; or
· Picking up protective gear (however changing into the gear is generally time worked).
Furthermore, as seen in another recent U.S. Supreme Court case discussed on this blog, collective bargaining agreements may eliminate activities such as changing clothes from compensable time.
Upcoming Amazon Supreme Court case
The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear another case involving compensable time under FLSA. Former workers at an Amazon warehouse in Nevada were required to go through a security check at the end of every shift to protect against worker theft of products processed at the warehouse. Workers claim that sometimes waiting in line for the security check would take up to 30 minutes, and they contend they should have been compensated for that time. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which also oversees Oregon cases, decided in favor of the employees. That decision sparked several similar lawsuits regarding other Amazon warehouses. Amazon appealed and now the Supreme Court plans to hear
the case later this term.
Employees deserve to be compensated for all of the time they spend on activities that are required for their jobs. If you believe your employer has violated FLSA or another labor law, contact the experienced employment attorneys at HKM today for help.