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  • Glicel Sumagaysay

Bag-Checking/Security Screening Is Not Compensable Work Time

According to a decision by Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, time spent waiting while Apple checked their employees’ bags is not compensable. The Court granted Apple’s motion for summary judgment in a case brought by Apple employees who claimed they should have been paid for the time they waited as their supervisors searched their bags. Plaintiffs alleged they waited up to approximately 10-15 minutes per day as their bags were searched for possible theft, totaling approximately $1,500 in unpaid work time per year in violation of the FLSA, New York and California state laws. The Court ruled that employees could have chosen not to bring bags to avoid Apple’s control, and that Apple could have prohibited employees from bringing in bags at all. Judge Alsup stated that instead, Apple took a milder approach and permitted bags and personal Apple products subject to search. Frlekin and Pelle, et al. v. Apple, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Case No. 13-cv-3451 (Nov. 9, 2015).

This ruling is similar to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last December in a case involving Integrity Staffing Solutions, an Amazon warehousing contractor. According to Justice Thomas in a 9-0 vote, the security screening process at the warehouse is not “integral and indispensable to the principal activities" of the workers' jobs under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Therefore, it is not compensable. Justice Thomas went on to state that to be compensated, the activity in question must be “an intrinsic element” of the job such that the employee cannot dispense of it in order to perform his principal activities. According to the Court, security screening, which Plaintiffs alleged took roughly twenty-five minutes per day, was not such an activity. Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc v. Busk, et al., 574 U.S. ___ (2014).

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