An interesting lawsuit came into the spotlight recently involving an unfair practice imposed on Apple store employees. For years, Apple workers have been required to undergo a 10-20 minute search at the end of their shift to ensure no company assets or trade secrets were stolen. The search is conducted by a manager who goes through employees’ personal bags and checks the serial numbers of their Apple devices to ensure the items actually belong to them. Ideally this whole process would happen right after an employee clocks out, but that’s not always the case.
On busy days, employees could wait around for up to 45 minutes until a manager or security officer becomes available. Add the 10-20 minute search on top of 45 minutes of wait time and employees can waste up to an hour hanging around the store after their shift ends. The biggest kicker though, is that Apple employees aren’t paid for any of this time.
This extremely unfair protocol led a group of employees to file a class action lawsuit against Apple in 2013 but two years later, a California judge dismissed the lawsuit ruling in Apple’s favor. Apple argued that employees could avoid searches by not bringing a bag or an iPhone to work at all. But this time around, the state Supreme Court sided with the plaintiffs ruling the Apple was in violation of state law by not paying employees for their time spent waiting and undergoing mandatory security checks.
A California Supreme Court Judge also pointed out the hypocrisy in Apple’s case from 2015 saying “Its characterization of the iPhone as unnecessary for its own employees is directly at odds with its description of the iPhone as an ‘integrated and integral’ part of the lives of everyone else,”
The unpaid time claimed by the plaintiffs might not seem like much, but when you add up current and former employees of 52 Apple stores, it’s pretty significant. Apple will have to pay as much as $60 million to 12,400 former and current employees at 52 Apple stores across California.
As the L.A. Times explained, the court’s decision is retroactive. The case will return to the 9th Circuit where the federal judges will apply the interpretation of state law. So it looks like this time, things worked out in Apple employees' favor.
If you enjoyed this segment, be sure to register for CE Week 2020 where we'll be showcasing and talking about all the hot topics in consumer tech from June 10-11 in New York City.