Following Supreme Court Direction, Maryland Federal Court Rules Waiting Time Not Compensable
The United States Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Integrity Staffing clarified that, under the Portal-to-Portal Act, preliminary and postliminary tasks are not compensable even if potentially done for the employer’s benefit, provided they are not integral and indispensable to the job functions for which a person is hired. Applying this concept, a Maryland Federal Court rejected FLSA claims seeking compensation for waiting time and other similar categories of preliminary and postliminary activity. Jones v. Hoffberger Moving Servs. LLC, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36622 (D. Md. Mar. 24, 2015).
Hoffberger concerned a common allegation of field-based employees in construction and related fields as such employees often gather at an employer location or “yard” before deploying to a work site. Plaintiffs, moving company employees, claimed unpaid wages were owed for time spent: (1) waiting at the warehouse each morning before traveling to jobsites; (2) travelling from the warehouse to jobsites; (3) waiting at the jobsite before moving trucks and moving equipment had arrived; and (4) travelling—after completing work at a jobsite—to pick up paychecks at the warehouse. Judge James K. Bredar, applying Integrity Staffing, ruled that the wait time spent at Defendant’s warehouse, time spent traveling from the warehouse to a job site and time spent picking up paychecks were non-compensable as a matter of law. The Judge denied summary judgment as to a far narrower category of claims where plaintiffs could establish they performed uncompensated work at the warehouse prior to traveling to a job site. Days later, a Massachusetts Judge addressed similar issues, dismissing pre-and-post-shift travel time claims on summary judgment. Local 589, Amalgamated Transit Union v. Mass. Bay Transp. Auth., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42178 (D. Mass. Mar. 31, 2015).
Employers of non-exempt workers must review Integrity Staffing and apply the Portal-to-Portal doctrine appropriately to their compensation practices for non-exempt workers, particularly those who work at varying job sites or in the “field.” Of course, as always, state law must also be reviewed.