The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case on Wednesday involving former Amazon warehouse workers fighting over unpaid security searches which could have implications for similar cases in the future.
Two former temporary employees from Amazon contractor Integrity Staffing Solutions argue that they should have been compensated for the time spent passing through 30-minute security checks at the end of their shifts. The workers, who were based at one of Amazon’s Las Vegas-area warehouses, filed a lawsuit in 2010 claiming that the unpaid checks violated Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
In April 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that the workers’ suit could go forward, which led to a bevy of similar cases against Amazon directly and other third-party warehouse contractors.
Integrity argues that security checks are no different than tasks like punching time clocks or walking to the parking lot — which the FLSA has found non-compensable. The company will have some help from the U.S. government on Wednesday, which will argue in support of Integrity.
If the case moves past the Supreme Court, it will head to a federal trial court. Bloomberg notes that Amazon could be required to pay up $100 million in lost wages to 400,000 workers.
What the Supreme Court ultimately decides for this case could determine how companies must pay workers for duties not related directly to regular work assignments. Companies like Apple, J.C. Penney, and CVS Health are fighting similar court claims.
Update, 4 p.m. — Amazon sent us a statement in regard to the Supreme Court case:
“We have a longstanding practice of not commenting on pending litigation, but data shows that employees walk through post shift security screening with little or no wait.”