In a unanimous vote, the Supreme Court Tuesday ruled that Amazon warehouse workers need not be paid for time spent in security checks.
Workers had sued the temp agency contracted with Amazon, Integrity Staffing Solutions, saying they should be paid because the security checks were “integral and indispensable” to their work, the definition under the law to require pay for activities before or after work hours.
But the justices agree that the security checks didn’t rise to the level of “integral and indispensable.” The ruling will affect other similar suits against Amazon and other businesses.
This long-anticipated ruling is important to Amazon’s bottom line; it now can avoid the added costs of both paying workers and for the potential loss due to employee theft. That is no small consideration: inventory loss due to employee theft cost U.S. retailers $34.5 billion in 2011, according to the National Retail Security Survey.
But that doesn’t mean the controversy is over. Amazon’s warehouse working conditions have become infamous, and the fact that the Supreme Court has sanctioned the e-retail giant’s failure to pay for extra time in security lines will do little for its dubious reputation for harsh policies toward workers.