Q. We keep track of work hours for non-exempt employees using an electronic timekeeping system. For our exempt employees, we really have no records of how many hours they are working each day or week. Are we required to? Even if it’s not required, should we?
Articles Discussing Hours Worked Under The FLSA.
Joining similar decisions applying the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Portal-to-Portal Act in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, Senior District Judge Terrence F. McVerry of the Western District of Pennsylvania recently held that time spent attending allegedly mandatory pre-shift safety meetings was not compensable under the FLSA because those safety meetings were neither “principal activities” nor “integral and indispensable” to the mining employees’ principal activities. Bonds v. GMS Mine Repair & Maint., Inc., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127769 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 23, 2015).
Applying the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently ruled that firefighters are not entitled to compensation under the FLSA for time spent moving certain necessary gear to and from temporary work assignments at fire stations other than their “home” stations. Balestrieri v. Menlo Park Fire Prot. Dist., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15785 (9th Cir. Sept. 4, 2015).
The best defense for employers confronted with claims of “off-the-clock”, (i.e., unrecorded) work under the FLSA are accurate contemporaneous time records created by employees based on clearly communicated time keeping practices. The effectiveness of such records was recently demonstrated in Roberts v. Advocate Health Care, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103631 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 7, 2015).
Although most employers are aware that an employee’s time spent working is generally compensable, the question of what actually constitutes compensable “working time” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is an area fraught with uncertainty and the subject of substantial litigation. Indeed, in December 2014, in the case of Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that employees’ time spent waiting to undergo and undergoing security screenings was not compensable working time. If the amount of litigation surrounding this issue is any indication, determining whether employee activity connected to employment is compensable is an area where mistakes are easily and commonly made by employers.
Last summer, we highlighted an example of how good recordkeeping practices can result in a favorable decision. In the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan case, the employer successfully defended an “unauthorized overtime” claim where an employee worked off the clock against Kaiser’s policies and without its knowledge. A recent Eleventh Circuit decision demonstrates the limits of relying solely on policies as a defense in these types of cases.
In a significant decision addressing the compensability of employee break times, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently held that time spent by a group of security guards monitoring their radios during meal periods was not compensable work time under the FLSA because they failed to demonstrate that the time spent during their meal breaks was predominantly for the benefit of their employer. Notably, the Sixth Circuit found that the meal periods were non-compensable notwithstanding the fact that the security guards were unable to leave the premises and had to listen to their radio throughout their break, regardless of what they were doing.
Employers across the country are breathing a sigh of relief following the December 9, 2014 unanimous ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court that time spent by warehouse workers waiting for and undergoing antitheft security screening is not compensable time under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk et al., No. 13-433. The opinion is of significant import for many of the nation’s largest employers, as security screening and bag checks have become an increasingly ubiquitous part of an employee’s ingress and egress to and from work. Indeed, the significance of this ruling is underscored by the spate of class-action suits that were filed after the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit’s determination in Busk et al. v. Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc., 713 F.3d 525 (2013), which held that such time could be compensable under the FLSA. Like the Busk litigation, the suits that followed the Ninth Circuit’s ruling have been brought by employees seeking back-pay for time spent in security screening, and represented massive potential liability. Justice Thomas authored the majority opinion that reversed the Ninth Circuit’s holding in Busk with a concurring opinion authored by Justice Sotomayor and joined by Justice Kagan.
This past spring (here and here), I discussed rounding time clock punches (usually automatically with a time clock system) at the beginning and end of a shift. To recap briefly, rounding is the practice of adjusting time clock punch times within specific bounds. For example, if your employees punch in for work at 7:57, 8:01, and 8:02, your rounding rules may treat all of those punches as occurring at 8:00 a.m. for payroll purposes.
Employers should be relieved to know that they are not required to pay employees for security check time. In a unanimous opinion issued Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court held that workers are not entitled to be paid for time spent waiting for and undergoing post-shift anti-theft screenings under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as amended by the Portal to Portal Act.
Executive Summary: On December 9, 2014, the United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision favorable to employers significantly limiting the types of preliminary and postliminary activities that are compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, the Court held that the time spent by warehouse workers waiting to undergo and undergoing security screenings before leaving for the day is not compensable.
In October, we profiled Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, a case asking whether time spent in security screenings is compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Warehouse workers sued Integrity Staffing under the FLSA for uncompensated time they were required to spend in lengthy security screenings (lasting up to 25 minutes) at the end of their shifts during their assignments to work in Amazon warehouses. At the time, we suggested that it would be “hard to envision a result different” from last term’s Sandifer v. U.S. Steel case. This prediction came true, but from a unanimous Supreme Court, rather than a sharply divided one. The Court held that the employees at Integrity Staffing Solutions facilities in Nevada could not claim compensation for the time spent going through security screenings aimed at protecting against theft because these activities were not integral and indispensable to their principal duties.
While the chance of both chambers approving bills this term that would significantly alter workplace wage and hour law is extremely low, members of the House and Senate continue to draw attention to this area. On Wednesday, Democratic members of both Houses of Congress introduced the Schedules that Work Act (H.R. 5159, S. 2642), a bill that would give hourly workers the right to request flexible and/or regular work schedules without reprisal. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced the Senate bill and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) sponsored the House version. The bill would establish an interactive process for requesting and considering such schedule changes. In addition, according to a fact sheet, the legislation would require employers to:
With the German victory in the 2014 World Cup now in the books and baseball finishing up its All Star break (Go Tigers—Cabrera with a 2-run HR, Scherzer with a W!), I wanted to turn my attention this week to the latest push by the White House to encourage change in the private sector workplace, specifically alternative or flexible work schedules.
In my last post, I outlined the “normal” commuting case after Congress passed the Employee Commuting Flexibility Act (ECFA). The ECFA clarified the applicability of the Portal-to-Portal Act to the payment of wages to employees who use employer-provided vehicles. Clarification was necessary because of two conflicting opinion letters on the topic issued by the DOL in 1994 and 1995, respectively. As I mentioned earlier this week, the ECFA made commuting in a company car non-compensable only if the use of the employer’s vehicle was (1) “for travel that is within the normal commuting area for the employer’s business or establishment;” and (2) “subject to an agreement on the part of the employer and the employee or representative of such employee.” 29 U.S.C. § 254(a).