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What Time is Compensable Under FLSA

The Portal to Portal Act exempts certain activities from compensable time covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  The Portal to Portal Act provides that the time an employee spends walking, traveling or riding to and from the place the employee performed the principal activities that the employee is employed to provide is exempted from payment under the FLSA.  An employee is also not entitled to compensation for activities which are preliminary or postliminary to the principal activities that an employee is hired to perform.   Courts have determined that a principal activity under the Portal to Portal Act includes “all activities which are an integral and indispensable part of the principal activities” that an employee is hired to perform.  Integral and indispensable to performance of principal activities is one which the employee must perform in order to perform the principal activities required by the job. 

The court in Herbert Jones, et al. v. Hoffenberger Moving Services LLC, analyzed a number of allegations from Plaintiffs that certain time was compensable under the FLSA.    The Plaintiffs were various workers hired by Defendant, a moving and storage company, to load and unload Defendant’s moving trucks.  Plaintiffs filed suit against Defendant alleging they were not properly compensated for four different categories of time they spent on the job.

Waiting time before traveling to job site.  Each morning Plaintiffs would arrive and wait at the Defendant’s warehouse to ride to the job site in a company van.  Plaintiffs allege that they should be compensated for the time they spent waiting at the warehouse to travel to the job site. The court in Jones found that the time Plaintiffs spent waiting to travel to a job site was not integral and indispensable to the Plaintiffs’ primary duties of loading and unloading moving trucks and therefore was not compensable time.  In order for such time to be compensable the Plaintiffs would need to be engaged in an activity which was part of the job the employee was hired to perform or is integral and indispensable to the activity that Plaintiffs were hired to perform.  Waiting for a service provided for the convenience of the employees, i.e. transportation to the job site, is not integral and dispensable to the Plaintiffs’ positions.

Travel time to job site.   Plaintiffs’ second claim was that they should be paid for travel time from Defendant’s warehouse to the job site each day.  The Jones court stated that unless Plaintiffs had performed a principal activity of the employer prior to such travel, the time during which the Plaintiffs traveled to a jobsite was not compensable, even if the travel was done in an employer vehicle.   Other courts have further clarified when travel time must be compensated by the employer.  If employees are required to report to a separate meeting place to receive equipment, instructions, etc. prior to traveling to the work site, the time spent traveling is compensable under the FLSA.   If employees report to a meeting place for the convenience of the employees, but are not required to do so, the time spent traveling is not compensable.

Time waiting at job site.  Plaintiffs’ third claim was that the time spent waiting at the job site for the employer’s moving trucks and equipment to arrive at the site should be compensable.  Plaintiffs claimed that they would arrive at the job sites and would not be able to start work until the moving trucks and supplies arrived.   The court found that once the employees arrived at the job site they were engaged in the principal activity they were hired to perform even though they were waiting to begin actual work.   The employees were ‘engaged to wait’ and were waiting only because the equipment they needed to perform the job had not yet arrived.

Time spent traveling back to warehouse.   Plaintiffs’ final claim was that they should be compensated for the time they spend traveling back to the warehouse to pick up paychecks.  The court found this time was not compensable as it was a postliminary activity and not integral and indispensable to the job employees were hired to perform.  


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