Workers in Murfreesboro’s Amazon facility have filed a lawsuit in federal court to recover for unpaid time spent on required security screenings that often occurred during breaks and at the end of scheduled shifts. The security screenings are used by Amazon to make sure that employees are not stealing items from the facility. The suit claims that these required screenings can take more than 10 to 15 minutes a work day. This amount can total up to 40 minutes of unpaid time each week.
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, three plaintiffs working at the facility requested the court to inform both current and former workers of their right to file for unpaid wages. The plaintiffs hope to bring awareness of the situation to fellow workers who also may have not been paid for all of their time worked.
In a similar case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that an Amazon facility in Nevada had to pay workers for the time spent at security checkpoints at the end of the day upon leaving work. The lower court had originally ruled that the employer did not have to pay the employees who had to stand in line up for approximately 25 minutes before leaving work. However, the Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision reasoning that the purpose of the security check was to prevent theft and was beneficial to the employer. The court found that this fell under the employees’ work related duties and were compensable.
The plaintiffs in this case are seeking to recover lost wages, including any overtime pay, rightfully earned under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Enacted in 1938, the FLSA established a national minimum wage, a standard workweek of 40 hours, and guaranteed overtime payments of “time-and-a-half” to those qualifying under the statute.
However, there are certain employees who may be exempt from overtime pay under FLSA. There are three tests to determine whether an employee may be eligible for overtime pay including an employee’s salary level, salary basis, and job duties. The salary level test exempts those earning more than $23,600 per year or $455 per week from being paid overtime. The salary basis test requires that an employee receive a guaranteed minimum amount of money each work week in which he or she performs any work to be considered exempt. Finally, the job duties test exempts employees who perform certain job duties typically including executive, professional, and administrative tasks.
Often employers may try to categorize employees as exempt by mislabeling an employee’s job title or by using “creative” methods of payment. However, you should not be subject to that behavior. If you believe that you have not been paid for the wages that you have earned, we encourage you to contact the Tennessee employment lawyers at The Higgins Firm. Our team of employment law attorneys would be happy to answer any questions that you may have related to overtime payment or other FLSA issues.