Amazon avoids paying workers for long waits and walks


Eleven years ago, an Amazon worker sued the company for screening him at the end of his shifts at its warehouse to make sure he wasn’t smuggling inventory out the door. The worker’s complaint: It was Amazon that was taking something from him.

The case made it to the Supreme Court, where the warehouse worker, now joined by others, argued that he should be compensated for going through long lines and undergoing searches through bags and pockets. Amazon required the process, the workers said, so the time should be considered work.

The justices didn’t agree. In a unanimous decision, the court ruled Amazon didn’t have to pay workers for time spent in line or being screened. The 2014 decision is known as Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk.

Those searches have reportedly gotten much shorter, but the pandemic has brought the same issue to the fore again. In February, former warehouse workers in California sued Amazon because it didn’t pay them for mandatory COVID-19 checks before shifts. Amazon says the screenings don’t require payment because they were part of the larger push to keep COVID in check.

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