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Supreme Court Rules Unanimously Against Amazon Warehouse Workers In Security Screening Case

Scott Sady
AP Photo
FILE - An employee pulls a pallet of empty boxes past the book storage area at their Fernley, Nevada warehouse.

Business groups are cheering a unanimous decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in a case brought by Amazon warehouse workers. The justices rejected the workers’ argument that they should be paid for the time spent waiting to go through security screenings.

Two workers employed by an Amazon contractor in Nevada brought the case. They said it usually took 25 minutes every day to go through an anti-theft security screening at the end of their shifts.

The works argued that they deserved to be paid for that time because it was something their employer required them to do. But the Supreme Court disagreed.

“The legal test is whether the time spent after the shift or before the shift is integral and indispensable to the primary work activities, and the court pointed out that the work these employees did in the warehouse could be done without these employees going through the security screening,” said Edward Brill, a lawyer with Proskauer Rose in New York who wrote a brief for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups siding with the employer.

Brill says the decision is a relief to employers. He says they could have faced a flood of lawsuits if the justices sided with the workers.

An Amazon spokeswoman disputes the claim that it took 25 minutes to go through the security check. She says the process only takes workers about 90 seconds, including wait time. 

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.