If Cochese and Bobby, “The Rookie” were working mall security in Pennsylvania, would their employer have to pay them for the time they spend keeping those uniforms looking 80s-spiffy? If it were up to one Pennsylvania federal court, they would be SOL.
You’ll see what I mean once you hit the jump…
The case is Schwartz v. Victory Security Agency, L.P., and you can find a copy of the Court’s opinion here and embedded below.
Aggrieved security guards believe they should be paid for looking good on the job.
Briefly summarizing the facts, the plaintiffs, a group of security guards, alleged that their employer required that they “clean and maintain their work uniforms including: shirts, trousers, socks, shoes, belts, hats, ties, jackets, weapons, tools and other items, in good and presentable condition.” The plaintiffs claimed that they performed this “uniform maintenance work” for about one to two hours each week, and should have been paid for it, but never were. So they sued their employer for allegedly violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).
The court holds that maintaining and wearing a uniform is not “integral and indispensable” to providing security.
Under the FLSA, an employer must pay each non-exempt employee for each hour worked and time-and-a-half for all hours worked over 40 in a week. However, there is an exception to this rule. An employer does not have to pay its non-exempt employees for “activities which are preliminary to or postliminary to said principal activity or activities.” What does this mean? The United States Supreme Court has defined preliminary and postliminary activities as those which are not “an integral and indispensable part of the principal activities.”
So, what does “integral and indispensable” mean? According to the Schwartz Court, indispensable means “necessary” and integral means “essential to completeness; organically joined or linked composed of constitutes parts making a whole.”
Is uniform maintenance work “integral and indispensable”? The Schwartz Court didn’t think so. The court ruled that while security guards may be required to wear and, therefore, maintain their uniforms, such actions were not integral and indispensable to providing security.
Do you agree with the court’s ruling? Sound off in the comments below.