Lawsuit: Employers Not Paying for Pre-Shift Covid Screening

For the past year, employers have been regularly screening employees for fevers and other Covid-19 symptoms. If you’ve attended one of my Covid webinars (the next one is on March 23), you’ve heard me bring up the question of employee pay.

I’ve said that while I wasn’t sure of the legality of not paying (and looked at an Amazon court case where the Supreme Court said they didn’t have to pay for security screening), but I was sure of the morality. Nothing tells your employees that you don’t care about them like forcing them to stand in a line while you don’t pay them. I also warned people that not paying was likely to land you as the test case in court.

Well, those test cases have now been started. This tweet, from employment attorney and friend of the blog, Jon Hyman, came through my feed.

Who is getting sued? I’ll give you three guesses

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If you guessed Walmart, you’d be right. They, of course, have the money to fight a lawsuit all the way to the Supreme Court. They also have the money to pay their employees for standing in line. I’d certainly prefer that they spend the money on their front line staff rather than paying high priced lawyers.

Jon thinks the employees will win this. He writes:

Legally, the standard, per SCOTUS’s decision in Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk, asks whether the pre-shift activities are “integral and indispensable” to an employee’s principal activities (“necessary to the principal work performed” and “done for the benefit of the employer”). It’s hard to fathom a situation during a pandemic in which pre-shift health screenings don’t meet this standard. 

I hope he’s right. But even if he’s wrong and Walmart and the others pull out a win on this one, it’s a horrible thing to do. If you’re going to screen employees, make sure you pay them for their time. It’s the only moral thing to do.

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4 thoughts on “Lawsuit: Employers Not Paying for Pre-Shift Covid Screening

  1. I hope they do have to pay, but didn’t Amazon win a similar lawsuit about not having to pay for security/theft screenings?

  2. The reason these big corporations are fighting the need to pay is that they aren’t getting enough kickback cash payout from the government. No corporation, today, does anything without a profit on their end. There are morals involved just plain greed. But people criticize criminal organizations that do the same thing in controlling their “enterprises” but these corporations are just as amoral. Talking about the supposed rights of the workers doesn’t happen without a mandated law in place. Right now in New York, all employers have to pay BUT only through the end of 2022. What’s going to happen after that?

    1. Are you referring to New York employers having to provide up to 4 hours’ paid leave for employees to get COVID-19 vaccinations?

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