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Airport Security Workers Decision

Work for the Transportation Safety Administration at Hartsfield- Jackson International Airport? There may be some bad news for you if you want to pursue an overtime case here in Georgia.

The U.S. Federal Court of Claims recently ruled that a Memphis TSA screener was not entitled to overtime under the FLSA. Jones v. United States, Fed. Cl., No. 08-645, (9/14/09).

In granting TSA’s motion to dismiss, Judge Lawrence M. Baskir ruled that the FLSA’s overtime provisions were preempted by the “notwithstanding” clause in the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA) because that Act granted the agency “complete discretion” in setting compensation levels for security screeners.

On its surface, Jones’s case might look pretty good, if there wasn’t an enabling statute interfering..

The provision in question, codified at 49 U.S.C. Section 44935, states that “[n]otwithstanding any other provision of law, the Under Secretary of Transportation for Security may employ … and fix the compensation, terms and conditions of employment of Federal service … [as] necessary to carry out the screening functions ….”

The TSA argued, and the court agreed, that this clause supersedes any other employment laws, including the FLSA.

The court also rejected the Plaintiff’s argument that Congress didn’t actually intend to give the enabling statute a preemptive effect over federal employment statutes. “Lawmakers on both the House and Senate side recognized that the legislation’s broad ‘notwithstanding’ clause would have exempted screeners from basic legal protections, including the FLSA.”

If you have any questions regarding this law, and federal employment laws, or Georgia employment law, please contact us.

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