The Retail Litigation Center (RLC), joined by the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, the Society for Human Resource Management and the National Association of Manufacturers, filed a brief amicus curiae in the Supreme Court of the United States asking the court to grant certiorari to address the split among the Circuit Courts of Appeals on whether security check waiting time is compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The brief highlights the risks that the ambiguity and uncertainty associated with the circuit split poses to businesses across the country if left unaddressed.
The case in question, Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Jesse Busk, et al., saw the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reverse a lower court decision, adopting expansive interpretations of state and federal labor statutes to expand employer obligations regarding employee compensation in such a manner that compliance would require substantial changes to commonly accepted businesses practices, with especially detrimental effects on the retail industry. In adopting the opinion, the Ninth Circuit significantly expanded employer obligations and liabilities inconsistent with the FLSA and demonstrated Congressional intent stemming from the Portal to Portal Act of 1947.
“The actions of the Ninth Circuit, significantly expanding compensation standards, stand in stark contrast with a half century of federal interpretation and are irresponsible,” said Deborah White, president, Retail Litigation Center. “The decision here, if left unaddressed, will unnecessarily complicate human resources practices for all businesses and the expansion of liability opens the door to forum shopping. The Supreme Court should recognize the harm caused by the legal landscape and accept the case.”
The brief argues that this decision will place employers in harm’s way as litigators seek to bring cases in the lenient forum of the Ninth Circuit, exposing them to harmful class action lawsuits that have the potential to further chill the slim margins of the industry. In addition, the brief raises concerns about the ripple effects of the legal uncertainty emanating from the court, making compliance with expansive labor regulations even more challenging for employers; the RLC raised these concerns previously in an amicus brief in this case filed with the Ninth Circuit earlier this year.
From the brief filed with the Supreme Court of the United States:
“The Ninth Circuit’s decision in this case thus constitutes a radical departure from long-established regulatory guidance and preexisting precedent. That, in turn, creates the potential for significant and completely unanticipated financial liability for thousands of employers.”
“Accordingly, the Ninth Circuit’s decision has created nationwide legal uncertainty and enormous potential financial liability for thousands of employers. Regardless of whether this Court ultimately agrees or disagrees with the Ninth Circuit’s decision on the merits, employers throughout the United States need a timely and final resolution of the security-screening question.”
“The Ninth Circuit’s decision may require thousands of employers to take immediate and potentially costly proactive action in an effort to protect themselves against the type of copycat suits that are already being spawned by the Ninth Circuit’s decision.”
The complete brief can be found HERE. The brief was written by Proskauer Rose LLP attorneys James F. Segroves, Kenneth D. Sulzer and Laura Reathaford.
The Retail Litigation Center is a public policy organization that identifies and engages in legal proceedings which affect the retail industry. The RLC, whose members include some of the country’s largest retailers, was formed to provide courts with retail industry perspectives on significant legal issues, and highlight the potential industry-wide consequences of legal principles that may be determined in pending cases.