Judge Dismisses Apple Workers Claim for Unpaid Security Check Time

Nov 13 2015 - Compensation - Gail Cecchettini Whaley

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Judge says workers not entitled to pay for security searches.

A federal district court judge recently tossed a class action lawsuit brought by more than 12,000 current and former Apple workers who claimed that they should have been paid for time spent undergoing mandatory security bag checks.

The retail store workers were required to undergo searches when they left the premises with a bag, purse, backpack, briefcase or Apple product, such as an iPhone. Apple conducted the search to ensure that no Apple products were being taken. Apple’s 52 California stores performed these searches.

The searches were done after the employees had already clocked out for the day. Employees claimed that time waiting for and undergoing the search could amount to 5-15 minutes, and sometimes they had to wait in line or track down a manager or security guard to conduct the search.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup dismissed the class action lawsuit. Key to the court’s ruling was its analysis that a worker could avoid the security screening by simply leaving the bag or other item subject to the search rule at home. Workers had the “freedom to choose to avoid searches” and some workers did just that, leaving bags and other searchable items at home.

“Rather than prohibiting employees from bringing bags and personal Apple devices into the store altogether, Apple took a milder approach to theft prevention and offered its employees the option to bring bags and personal Apple devices into a store subject to the condition that such items must be searched when they leave the store,” said Judge Alsup.

The judge also found that the time spent waiting to be searched was unrelated to the employee’s job responsibilities and was not compensable work time.

According to a Reuters report, the plaintiffs are considering a possible appeal.

Gail Cecchettini Whaley, CalChamber Employment Law Counsel/Content

Members can learn more about Employee Property Searches in the HRLibrary. Not a member? See how HRCalifornia can help you.

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