California Court Rules Apple Must Pay Employees While Being Searched

Apple Store Security Credit: Hadrian / Shutterstock
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For many companies, the “time” or work that must be compensated for while employees are not actually working is being questioned. Whether it’s a smoke break or a bathroom visit, some companies will track and penalize employees if that time is abused or misused. However, a group of Apple employees may have won a victory for their own time in the district courts.

Apple Stores have a strict policy that requires employees to be searched by a manager or security guard before being released from their duty. These searches are often quite extensive, with employees estimating that they take five to twenty minutes on average, with the busiest days (such as holidays) reaching forty-five minutes or more. These periods of searching were often done so without any compensation from the company.

So when a group of Apple Store employees filed a class-action lawsuit against their employer, the judges ruled unanimously in favor of the employees, stating that time “spent on Apple’s premises waiting for, and undergoing, mandatory exit searches of bags, packages, or personal Apple technology devices, such as iPhones, voluntarily brought to work purely for personal convenience is compensable as ‘hours worked’….”

One of the issues surrounding this slow search pattern would be the employees’ bags, which takes additional time to search. Apple made the argument that they could avoid this issue by restricting employees’ ability to bring a bag to work. The court retorted that such a notion would be “draconian,” in that a small offense such as carrying a bag would lead to a significant and unnecessary penalty for the employees.

The results of this lawsuit have been declared retroactive and will require a review by the 9th Circuit, where the federal judges will apply recent changes to local law in this particular case.

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