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Friday, 11 October, 2019

Sixth Circuit denies Amazon’s Petition to Revisit Security Screening Time Suit

Amazon’s petition to review the Sixth Circuit’s decision that the time the warehouse workers spend undergoing security checks is considered compensable work time was denied on Oct. 6.

Amazon warehouse workers in Arizona and Nevada have been pursuing overtime pay suits for almost a decade now. The case has been in an out of trial courts, appellate courts and even the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court’s ruling in 2014 solidified that under the FLSA the time the warehouse workers spend undergoing security checks and waiting in line for security checks are not intrinsic and indispensable to their job duties.   

In 2015, the plaintiffs amended their suit to bring it under Arizona and Nevada state overtime laws. It was in and out of courts once again with Amazon and their staffing agency on a relentless defense.

Significantly, neither of these state’s laws on overtime pay include laws similar to the Portal-to-Portal Act, which was an amendment to the FLSA that classified certain pre-shift and post-shift activities as exempt from overtime pay. In general, state laws on overtime pay tend to be more favorable to workers than the overtime pay laws under the FLSA.

After a trial court dismissed the warehouse workers’ new case, a Sixth Circuit appellate panel made the major decision that under Arizona and Nevada state law, the time the warehouse workers spend undergoing security checks does in fact qualify as compensable work time.

This ruling is significant because Amazon warehouse workers who sue under similar statutes in one of the 27 states that has its own overtime pay laws, now have precedent that if the state’s law doesn’t include a Portal-to-Portal Act, the workers who undergo security checks at work should be paid for the time spent doing so. It also opens a path for workers to sue for overtime pay for certain post-shift and pre-shift activities that were previously denied under the federal FLSA laws such travel time on the employer’s premises, and other pre-shift and post-shift time controlled by the employer.

Unfortunately, the case in Arizona was dismissed due to what the court ruled was a pleading error because the plaintiffs failed to point out a specific week that they should have been paid overtime.

Amazon warehouse workers and other workers who are forced to undergo security screening across the country now have a fighting chance to receive the wages that the plaintiffs in Arizona and Nevada have now obtained. 

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