Thursday, January 8, 2015

Should You Be Paid While You're At Work? Court Says No, But....

The U.S Supreme Court said last month
you don't have to pay these warehouse workers
for some of their time on the job.
Unfair, yes, but we wouldn't want to dent
a billionaire CEO's salary, would we?  
I was annoyed by a U.S. Supreme Court decision recently that said companies don't have to pay employees for all the time they are at work.   

Yes, you still have to pay people, but some companies now have these security checkpoints where people end up waiting in line for a half hour or more daily to be checked to make sure they're not stealing stuff.

Amazon warehouses in particular are famous for this.

The court decided that companies don't have to pay employees for the time they wait in line to prove they aren't a criminal stealing from the company.

In the Supreme Court case, two employees of Amazon Distribution Centers in Nevada said the half hour wait for the security screening took a half hour each day when they left work, so they should be paid for that time.

The Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling and said while the screenings are for the benefit of the company, the security screening ws not part of their job duties.

Which confuses me, since their bosses are making them stand in line for the security screening, but what to I know?   How is it not a job duty if the boss says you HAVE to stand in these lines or be fired?

As Slate pointed out, this also means that companies like Amazon have no incentive to limit the time employees wait in security lines. The attitude might become, "If it takes an hour, who cares if we're wasting our employees' time We don't have to pay for it."

As if these employees' burning desire is to spend their time away from work standing in security lines at the place they work.

I'm sure this unpaid security line stuff is just super for morale. But what do the companies care? To them, employees are just a mindless herd, like in a cow barn, and shouldn't demand niceties like being paid for being at work.

Consumerist tells us, however, that some states have laws saying that you have to pay workers who are, well, at work. There are lawsuits by business trying to overturn these state laws, but other states are considering enacting laws that make employers pay people who are at work.

Look for some court decisions over these state laws in the coming months.

Retailers say paying employees to go through security screenings, i.e. making them work, will be awfully expensive for them. But I dunno. I bet if they raise prices by a penny for some of their products, they'll recoup things nicely.

Or do they prefer that employees spend their entire day working for them, and not get paid at all for anything?

Geez, maybe we could take this one step further and not pay employees at all for working. Slavery would be great for the bottom line, not to mention the CEO's pay, wouldn't it?

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