Roberts v. State (3/2/2021)

March 10, 2021

Arizona Court of Appeals holds that the Fair Labor Standards Act does not preempt claims for overtime compensation under A.R.S. § 23-392.

Corrections officers sued their employer, the State of Arizona, under  A.R.S. § 23-392 for failing to pay overtime.  The officers claimed they were entitled to compensation for required security screenings that added 30 minutes to each workday.  The superior court granted the State’s motion to dismiss.  The Arizona Court of Appeals reversed.

The Court of Appeals held that the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) did not preempt the officer’s claims.  The FLSA’s purpose is to provide minimum protection to workers.  Similarly, the purpose of A.R.S. § 23-392 is to authorize overtime compensation for law enforcement personnel.  Thus, there was no implied preemption because the state law does not conflict with or impede Congress’s objectives in passing the FLSA.  

The Court also held that a task is a compensable overtime activity under A.R.S. § 23-392 if it is indispensable to the employee’s performance of her principal activities.  The officers sufficiently pleaded that the security screenings are integral to their principal activities because the screenings are inherently related to the work of securing the prison and intercepting contraband.

Judge Winthrop authored the opinion of the Court, in which Chief Judge Swann and Judge Campbell joined.