Court Rules that Employees’ Time Spent on Company Bus Travelling To and From Work Facility Not Compensable
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, has confirmed that a mandatory employed by S&B Engineering and Construction Services (S&B) does not require compensation to employees for time spent traveling.
According to the Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA), “[t]ime spent traveling during normal work hours is considered compensable work time.” However, whether or not time spent in travel is compensable time depends upon the kind of travel involved. For example, traveling to and from home and work before and after the regular workday is not considered work time. Activities performed during travel time typically must be burdensome on the employee and particularly important for the employer to be compensable.
In this case, S&B required all employees working at its petrochemical plant in Port Arthur, Texas to park in a designated lot 7 miles away and take a company bus to and from the facility. The bus ride took approximately 20-30 minutes each way. The parking lot and buses were considered an extension of the job site and were subject to S&B’s rules of conduct, which prohibited fighting, littering, smoking and possessing weapons, among other things.
The lawsuit was filed as a class action alleging the company’s mandatory busing policy violated the FLSA by failing to compensate workers for their travel time. The suit argued that (1) the company derived an economic benefit from the busing system; (2) workers were considered to be “on the worksite” and subject to S&B’s work rules during the commute; and (3) the bus rides were “integral and indispensable” to working at the plant.
However, the Court of Appeals confirmed that S&B’s mandatory bus-travel requirement involved “normal traveling time that the laborers would also be required to undertake by the mere fact of working at the [petrochemical plant]” and was not compensable under the FLSA.
Specifically, the court noted that workers did not perform any work before the start of their shifts and did not receive work-related instructions before or during the bus rides. The FLSA considers a “workday” to begin and end when an employee commences and ceases his/her “principal activity.”
If you feel that you or someone you know has not been properly compensated for travel time, please contact Khorrami, LLP for a private consultation.