The U.S. Supreme Court turned away an appeal by Amazon.com Inc., letting hourly workers at its Nevada warehouses press claims for compensation for time they spent in required security searches after their shifts.
The appeal was a follow-up to the 2014 Supreme Court ruling that unanimously said employees at Amazon warehouses don’t have a right under federal law to be paid for those screenings.
A federal appeals court said that decision didn’t preclude the workers from pursuing similar claims under Nevada state law. In its appeal, Amazon said the decision could create a “road-map” for courts interpreting wage-and-hour statutes in other states.
The ruling, issued by the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, centered on the meaning of the word “work” in Nevada’s wage-and-hour law. The panel ruled 2-1 that Nevada had incorporated the broad federal definition of that word into the state measure.
At the same time, the appeals court said the state didn’t adopt the federal exceptions that let employers require some unpaid pre- and post-work activities.
In a separate part of the opinion, the appeals court rejected claims pressed by employees in Arizona under that state’s laws.
The searches are designed to guard against theft by employees. The workers said in their 2010 lawsuit that they typically spent 25 minutes after their shifts waiting to pass through metal detectors. Amazon disputed that characterization.
Amazon has warehouses in North Las Vegas and Reno and is planning another in Henderson. The Nevada workers are also suing Amazon’s staffing company, Integrity Staffing Solutions Inc. The suit seeks class-action status.
The case is Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk, 18-1154.
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