The Court rejected the Ninth Circuit's position that the relevant issue is whether the particular activity is required by the employer. Rather, and in accordance with the Portal-to-Portal Act, the correct analysis focuses on whether the activity at issue is a "principal activity" which the employee is employed to perform. In making this determination, the following are relevant principles the court pointed out:
- The term "principal activity" includes all activities which are an integral and dispensable part of the principal activity
- "An activity is integral and indispensable to the principal activities an employee is employed to perform if it is an intrinsic element of those activities and one which the employee cannot dispense if he is to perform his principal activities"
Here, the Court found the security screenings noncompensable because:
- The screenings were not the principal activities for which the employees were employed (they were employed to retrieve products from warehouses and to package them for shipment);
- The screenings were not "integral and indispensable" to the employees' duties (the screenings were not an intrinsic element of retrieving the products from the warehouse and/or packaging for shipment); and
- The employer could have eliminated the screenings without impairing the employees' ability to perform their job duties.
In a time when the obligations and requirements imposed on employers seem to increase daily, this decision is a significant victory for employers. A copy of the Supreme Court's ruling can be found Here.