Rules + Regs

Court rules workers won't be compensated for pre-shift waiting

On Nov. 9, 2017, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of an employer that did not compensate construction employees for time spent waiting at a work site for shifts to begin.

Empire Scaffold LLC, Baton Rouge, La., required workers be taken by bus to a refinery, where they would assemble and take down scaffolding. Although the workday started at 7 a.m., workers had to board buses no later than 6:15 a.m. because the trip to the refinery was 20-30 minutes.

The employees said they were required to arrive before the workday began and claimed the time spent waiting for work to start was compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act and Portal-to-Portal Act. However, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned part of a lower court ruling in favor of the employees regarding the compensable time issue, saying such time only was compensable if it involved activities that were necessary to principal activities; for example, the court said the time it took to put on safety gear was compensable but waiting to do so was not.