Contractor Not Required to Pay Workers for Transportation or Security Time
Time that airport-project construction workers spent traveling on employer-provided transportation to the jobsite and going through security screening on site was not compensable time under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (AL, FL, GA) has held.
Baker Concrete Construction (Baker) was a subcontractor on the North Terminal project at Miami International Airport. Workers were required to pass through a single security checkpoint on the tarmac and then ride authorized buses or vans to their particular work sites in the airport. Because Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations prohibit unauthorized vehicles in the secured tarmac area, the general contractor provided free transportation from a free employee parking lot to the required security entrance as well as free transportation from the security entrance to the various work sites. Employees were not required to park in the free lot or to take the provided transportation to the security entrance, but they were required to enter through the single, designated security entrance and to take the provided transportation from there to their work sites. The employees did not perform any labor while waiting for or riding the vehicles, and they did not transport any tools or equipment other than personal safety equipment on the vehicles. Baker did not compensate them for the time spent on the buses or vans either on the way to the work sites or from the work sites at the end of the day, or for the time spent going through security. The workers sued claiming a violation of the FLSA.
The FLSA does not require employers to compensate covered employees for time spent: (1) walking, riding, or traveling to and from the actual place of performance of the employee’s principal activity or activities, or (2) on activities which are preliminary to or postliminary to the employee’s principal activity or activities. Thus, the court stated, if the employees here were “merely traveling to their ‘actual place of performance of the principal activities’ before beginning any work activity,” then the time in question is noncompensable. “But, if [the employees], by boarding those buses, going through security, or carrying their personal safety equipment are engaging in work-related activity that is ‘integral and indispensable’ to their work, then any travel afterwards is compensable.”
The court found that the transportation time in question here “fits squarely” within the plain language of the first part of the statutory provision. It also found the time to be consistent with examples of noncompensable travel provided by the Department of Labor in interpretive statements. The fact that the workers were required to ride the provided transportation after going through security is irrelevant, because the statute exempts even mandatory travel time, the court noted. The court held that both the travel time spent before going through security and after going through security were noncompensable.
The court then examined whether the time spent going through security was noncompensable under the second part of the statutory provision. The court applied a three-factor test for determining whether a preliminary or postliminary activity is so “integral and indispensable” as to be compensable, considering: (1) whether the activity is required by the employer, (2) whether the activity is necessary for the employer to perform his or her duties, and (3) whether the activity primarily benefits the employer.” The activity must be more than a “casual necessity.” Just because certain preshift activities are necessary for employees to engage in their principal activities does not mean that they are “integral and indispensable” to a principal activity. Further, the court found, “It is clear…from the Act’s language and history that the activity in question must be work in the benefit of the employer, and that the security screening mandated by the FAA in this case is not compensable work.” Accordingly, the court held that the security screening time was also noncompensable.
Bonilla v. Baker Concrete Const., Inc., Case No. 06-12515 (11th Cir., 5/30/07).
For more information on the FLSA, click here.
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