In a case handled by Ford & Harrison attorney Andrew Hament, the Eleventh Circuit has held that the time employees spend at a security checkpoint and time spent on employer-provided transportation from a remote parking lot to their work site is not compensable work time under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
In a case handled by Ford & Harrison attorney Andrew Hament, the Eleventh Circuit has held that the time employees spend at a security checkpoint and time spent on employer-provided transportation from a remote parking lot to their work site is not compensable work time under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). See Bonilla v. Baker Concrete Construction (May 30, 2007).
Under the FLSA, employees must be paid for all working time. The Portal to Portal Act amended the FLSA to clarify that employers are not required to pay employees for time spent walking, riding or traveling to the place the employees will perform their principal work activities, nor are they required to pay employees for time spent on activities that are preliminary or postliminary to the principal work activities.
In this case, the employees worked on a construction project at the Miami International Airport (MIA). The employees parked their vehicles at a free parking lot reserved for construction workers located several miles from the job site. Because of FAA security regulations, they had to pass through a single security checkpoint and then ride employer-provided buses or vans to their particular work sites. The employees signed in and out of work at the work site and did not perform any work while waiting for or riding on the buses.
The Eleventh Circuit held that the time the employees spent on the employer’s vehicles riding to and from their work site was non-compensable travel time, even if the employees were required to take the employer-provided transportation to their work sites. In reaching this conclusion, the court noted that other federal appeals courts have addressed this issue and have reached the same conclusion.
Addressing whether time spent at the security checkpoint is compensable, the Eleventh Circuit had to determine whether this time is “preliminary or postliminary” to the employees’ principal work activities. The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted this section of the Portal to Portal Act to apply when an activity is not an “integral and indispensable part” of the employees’ principal work activities. Factors to be considered in making this determination include: (1) whether the activity is required by the employer, (2) whether the activity is necessary for the employee to perform his or her duties, and (3) whether the activity primarily benefits the employer.
Applying these factors, the court noted that the FAA required the security screening; the employer did not require – or even particularly benefit from – the screening. Relying on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez, in which the Supreme Court held that time spent by employees waiting to don required protective gear is not compensable, the Eleventh Circuit held that the time spent at the security screening point was not compensable merely because it was necessary for the employees to perform their jobs. “[I]t is clear to us from the Act’s language and history that the activity in question must be work in the benefit of the employer, and that the security screening mandated by the FAA in this case is not compensable work.”
Employers' Bottom Line:
This decision is good news for employers. A holding that time spent traveling from remote parking areas or clearing security is compensable could have an enormous economic impact on employers. If you have any questions regarding this decision or the FLSA in general, please contact the Ford & Harrison attorney with whom you usually work, or Andrew Hament, 321-724-5633.