The Ninth Circuit, in Busk v. Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc., 713 F. 3d 525 (9th Cir. 4/12/13) (discussed here), had held that such time was compensable. The Supreme Court reversed, holding as follows:
The Portal-to-Portal Act, 29 U. S. C. §251(a), provides that an employer need not pay an employee for the following:
(1) walking, riding, or traveling to and from the actual place of performance of the principal activity or activities which such employee is employed to perform, and"At issue here is the exemption for 'activities which are preliminary to or postliminary to said principal activity or activities.'"
(2) activities which are preliminary to or postliminary to said principal activity or activities, which occur either prior to the time on any particular workday at which such employee commences, or subsequent to the time on any particular workday at which he ceases, such principal activity or activities.
The term "principal activities" includes all activities that are "integral and indispensable part of the principal activities." An activity is "integral and indispensable" if it is "an intrinsic element of [the principal] activities and one with which the employee cannot dispense if he is to perform his principal activities."
The time spent waiting for or engaged in security checks was not compensable. Waiting for and engaging in security checks were not the "principal activity or activities which [the] employee is employed to perform." Nor were they integral and indispensable to the employees' duties as warehouse workers. Integrity Staffing could have done away with the security screenings without impacting the employees' ability to perform their work.
Neither the fact that the employer required the employees to undergo the screening, nor that fact that the employer could have reduced the waiting time to a de minimis amount by adding more screeners change the analysis. Neither of these facts would make the screening time integral and indispensable to the employees' principal activities as warehouse workers.
Justice Thomas wrote the opinion for a unanimous Court. Justice Sotomayor wrote a concurring opinion, in which Justice Kagan joined. The opinion is available here.