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Employment Law/travel time and compensation

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Question
I understand that compensation is not required to be paid for employee travel to and from work, but do certain situations merit compensation to an employee. For example, I am a Fire alarm technician that works for a local company in my state and same county. In order to arrive at my first job of the day, I have to go through a checkpoint at the port of Miami, and then get on a ferry because it's the only way to get to the jobsite. I also like to mention that this ferry landing is being lease from the local city and is deemed sub property of the island in order to take workers back and forth to the island.  Everyday, I and many of my company technicians arrive well beyond our starting pay time of the day. We are schedule for 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday.  Most days the wait time to get on the island is 2-3 hours and that depends on worker traffic going to the island.  My employer now is threatening to not pay compensation for a situation that is beyond our control or fault I might add.  My employer does not want to pay compensation for the time spent waiting in line at the ferry even though we at and the ferry terminal in line every work day at 7am and we do not reach the island well after 10am. That's 3 hours everyday of nonpayment, not to mention the 3 hours we spend waiting in line to leave and go home. A total of 6 hours. Is there anyway to find more information about this specific case? Thank you in advance for you reply

James

Answer
James - You are correct that employers do not have to pay for commute time under current law. There is a case before the Supreme Court right now that asks whether employees have to be paid for a 20-25 minute security screening at the end of each shift.  Amazon through a temp firm is arguing that they do not have to compensate the employees for this time, and with the current composition of the Supreme Court, I would not be surprised to see the case go against the employees.  The law is still fairly unresolved on this point, but for reasons I cannot begin to understand, the Labor Department is siding with Amazon in the case.  If the case is decided for the employer, you have no chance at all of being paid for your commute time.  If the Supremes surprise us and side with the employees, you can contact the federal Labor Department and ask for their help with your employer, but there are no guarantees that 1) you will receive help, or 2) that your employer will be instructed to pay for your commute.  It probably would take another federal lawsuit to achieve what you want.  

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Margaret M. deMarteleire

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I can answer most questions about employment law, federal or state. I am an attorney, not an HR professional, so questions about HR careers, coursework, prospects, etc. are not within my scope.

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Attorney for 20 years, currently working exclusively with employment law - FLSA, FMLA, federal contracts, pay, etc.

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Temple University School of Liberal Arts, BA, Rhetoric & Communication, 1982 Temple University School of Law, JD, 1990 Certificate in HR, Cornell University ILR School, 2006

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