Does Amazon Have to Pay Workers for Going Through Its Security Lines? The Supreme Court Is About to Decide


Here’s the newest front in the war to pay low-wage workers even less:

The latest battle, which goes before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, was launched by former warehouse workers for Amazon.com, who argue they should have been paid for the time they spent waiting in security lines after their shifts….Those security lines could take more than half an hour, the workers said, and that was time when they should have been getting paid.

….Amazon said it would not comment due to the pending litigation, but a spokesperson said the “data shows that employees walk through post shift security screening with little or no wait.”

Well now. If employees truly walk though security screenings with “little or no wait,” then it wouldn’t cost Amazon anything to pay them for that time. So why are they fighting this? Perhaps it’s because Amazon is lying. Sometimes the wait really is substantial, and Amazon doesn’t want to (a) pay more security guards to speed up the lines or (b) pay workers for the time spent in slowpoke lines.

So this really does seem like a simple case. If Amazon is telling the truth, they should have no objection to paying employees for time spent in line. If they’re lying, then they should be given an incentive to speed up the security process—and the best incentive I can think of is to pay employees for time spent in line. Either way, the answer is the same: pay employees for time spent in security lines.

Needless to say, the Supreme Court will figure out a way to spend a hundred pages making this more complicated so that they can justify a different ruling. After all, it wouldn’t do to allow workers to get above their stations, would it?