Amazon Won Big at the Supreme Court. Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Follow Its Example

by Evil HR Lady on December 12, 2014

n a 9-0 Supreme Court ruled that Amazon wasn’t required to pay their employees for the time spent in a post-shift security line because it wasn’t a “principal activity.” In other words, if the security checks stopped, their jobs would remain the same.

With a 9-0 decision, it’s clear that this is the law. But, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something. This wasn’t a decision that hinged on the constitution, but rather on statute. Congress can change this if they wish. Regardless, you should not be doing a happy dance and say, “Woo-hoo! Now I canpay my employees less!” Here’s why.

To read the reasons why, click here: Amazon Won Big at the Supreme Court. Here’s Why You Shoudn’t Follow Its Example

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Camellia December 12, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Good points all. And if they put the timeclock AFTER the security screening I bet there would be a marked improvement of the process.


Evil HR Lady December 12, 2014 at 4:54 pm

I bet the time it takes to go through security would dramatically decrease if the employees were paid for the time. Then Amazon would be motivated to streamline the process.

I will have to say, someone pointed out to me that with the huge workforce Amazon has, it probably did save them money to fight it, even though they undoubtedly spent millions on the court case.


Daniel December 13, 2014 at 12:32 am

Think of the cost of negative publicity. This will earn them no points in the minds of consumers and could lead to a backlash a la Walmart, although I hope not.


Jessica (the celt) December 13, 2014 at 7:38 am

This, exactly. I’ve been a Prime member for a while, and this is the second of a two instances that have had me re-evaluating and debating not renewing it (and actually discontinuing my patronage). Being anti-worker is, in the end, anti-consumer, because I work for a wage that I can then choose to use to purchase items from them (or not). I’m glad to see your views on this, because it enraged me when I saw this news yesterday, and I was hoping one of my favorite employment bloggers would address it.


Observer December 14, 2014 at 10:22 pm

You make an extremely good point. It’s interesting to note that Henry Ford was not a “liberal” or advocate for workers rights by inclination or philosophy. Yet he took the radical step (and if you look at the discussion about this at the time this all went down, you will see that it WAS radical) of offering workers good pay and relatively short hours. His reason? He wanted that there should be more people who have the time to want what he sells and the money to buy it!


Observer December 14, 2014 at 10:18 pm

Why not? Just because something is legal does not mean it is right.

Why should people not consider the behavior of a copmpany before deciding to do business with that company?

Or are you saying the Amazon is morally and ethically correct, not just legally?


Jelly Bean January 3, 2015 at 6:23 am

I’d be curious to know what the ACTUAL time taken is. In the link, it says the employees claimed security checks take 25 minutes, while Amazon says 90 seconds. This is a big difference. Although I guess it’s probably is longer than 90 seconds otherwise why would the employees complain and why would there be a risk that businesses would be forced to pay billions in back pay?

I kind of like this ruling though, because I read here once that your boss can technically make you do “anything” such as pick up his dry cleaning. Now I can just say that’s not a principle activity so it doesn’t fall under my work duties. Bam!


Jelly Bean January 3, 2015 at 6:25 am

Here’s a good article with quotes from folks that are actually pretty logical, showing how silly this ruling is:


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: