Amazon Must Pay $13.5 Million for Unpaid Security Screenings of Workers

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

July 30, 2021

Amazon must pay its warehouse workers for time spent undergoing security checks after their shifts, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled. The decision means Amazon will pay $13.5 million to bring a decade-long multi-district case involving 42,000 employees to an end.

The warehouse employees claimed to spend four to eight minutes each day in security checks. Pennsylvania's highest court ruled in this first-of-its-kind issue in the state that time spent on an employer's premises waiting to undergo, and undergoing, mandatory security screening constitutes "hours worked" under the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act.

The ruling is significant because it could spark similar lawsuits elsewhere against employers over screening policies. The California Supreme Court reached a similar result last year in finding that the time employees spend waiting for and undergoing exit searches counts as compensable work time under state law. But on the federal level, employers have fared better.

In 2014, the US Supreme Court held unanimously in Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk that another group of Amazon warehouse workers did not need to be paid for time spent undergoing mandatory antitheft security screenings after work.

The Supreme Court reasoned that the workers' primary job duties were removing products from shelves and shipping them to customers. The screenings were not integral and indispensable to these duties, the Court held, and therefore were not compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act.