Must Pennsylvania employers pay workers for security screenings?

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2022 | Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) |

Employers may avoid compensation issues with employees by adhering to both federal and state laws regarding pay. Compliance based on sound and up-to-date legal guidance could prevent costly disputes from developing.

As reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, hundreds of employees filed a class-action lawsuit against a multinational warehouse company alleging unpaid wages. The complaint claimed workers spent thousands of hours on unpaid mandatory security screenings.

PA Supreme Court rules on time spent for security checks

The class-action lawsuit claimed warehouse security personnel checked employees for stolen goods after clocking out from their shifts. The company’s screening process included inspecting employees’ bags and using metal detectors. Plaintiffs alleged they waited in line to get through security. On average, an employee lost approximately 21 minutes each week.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that workers’ unpaid time spent in security checks added up to 205,725 hours between 2010 and 2015. One staff member expended 68 hours in unpaid time for security screenings over four years. The court ruled that security checks did not count as “trivial” time that may forgo paying wages.

Employee security checks may reflect overtime pay

As noted by the U.S. Department of Labor, insignificant tasks completed in uncertain and infrequent times may qualify for an exemption. Employers, for example, may forgo compensating workers for traveling to an alternative job site if it occurs once. Pennsylvania’s employers must, however, otherwise pay employees the state’s minimum hourly rate for all hours worked.

If employees work more than 40 hours in a week, employers must pay them the current overtime pay rate. To avoid disputes, companies that mandate employees remain on the premises for routine tasks or procedures must pay them for the additional time.