Trust is a fundamental requirement for all positive human interactions, yet Apple and many other companies routinely tell their employees the company does not trust them.
At the very least, knowing your employer does not trust you means you won’t give the employer what it deserves: a full day’s work in exchange for a full day’s pay.
Not only is this bad policy from an interpersonal relations standpoint, it also creates a toxic work environment. After the 9th U.S. District Court of Appeals ruled against them, it’s an environment Apple Inc. must must pay handsomely for creating.
While “exit searches” are common across many retail sectors, two former Apple employees took issue with being forced to wait to be searched after their shift was over.
In 2013, a pair of former Apple Retail employees in California filed a class action lawsuit against Apple Inc.
At issue was the unpaid time spent complying with the company’s policy of searching bags and purses of staff members before they could leave the store on breaks or at the end of their shifts.
Since this practice was part of the terms of employment and therefore part of their work day, the pair sued for lost wages as a result of those searches.
These “personal package and bag searches” are done for the sole benefit of Apple; are a uniform practice and policy in all Apple retail stores nationwide; and are not imposed on Apple’s customers.
This illegal practice and policy has been known to the Defendant for years and Apple continues to require Apple Hourly Employees to endure these required but uncompensated security checks.
For this reason, Plaintiffs bring this action on behalf of themselves and other Apple Hourly Employees to recover unpaid wages, overtime compensation, penalties, interest, injunctive relief, damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.
While they were suing Apple on behalf of employees nationwide, the scope of the class action lawsuit was reduced to California by that state’s Supreme Court because the U.S. Supreme Court previously ruled workers are not entitled to compensation for post-work searches under federal law.
Even for California employees, it would be an expensive proposition if Apple lost the case. Fortunately for Apple, a federal court judge ruled in their favour in 2015.
The ruling by a San Francisco federal judge Saturday releases the company from having to compensate as many [as] 12,400 former and current employees from 52 stores throughout the state a few dollars a day for time spent over a six-year period having their bags and Apple devices searched at meal breaks and after their shifts.
A law professor who reviewed filings in the case estimated Apple could have been on the hook for as much as $60 million, plus penalties.
Amanda Friekin and Dean Pelle, the plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit, appealed the loss.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday said Apple Inc must pay more than 12,000 retail workers in California for time they spent going through security screenings at the end of their shifts.
A unanimous three-judge panel reversed a judge who had tossed the case and ordered him to enter summary judgment for the plaintiffs, after the California Supreme Court in response to certified questions in the case said in February that time spent undergoing security checks is compensatable under state law.
I’m surprised, to be honest.
First, end-of-shift bag searches are common throughout the retail industry since, according to the industry at least, most thefts from retail stores are by employees – hence the bag searches prior to allowing employees to leave the premises.
Second, U.S. federal law states employees are not entitled to compensation for end-of-shift bag searches – and that law was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Unfortunately, the Westlaw story breaking down the ramifications of this case are hidden behind a paywall.
Fortunately, the actual decision is not, and it is quite straightforward.
In answering the question certified, as reformulated, the California Supreme Court held that Apple’s employees “are subject to Apple’s control while awaiting, and during, Apple’s exit searches,” and therefore Apple “must compensate those employees . . . for the time spent waiting for and undergoing” the exit searches pursuant to the Policy.
The California Supreme Court reasoned: “Apple’s exit searches are required as a practical matter, occur at the workplace, involve a significant degree of control, are imposed primarily for Apple’s benefit, and are enforced through threat of discipline. Thus, according to the ‘hours worked’ control clause, plaintiffs ‘must be paid.’”
Because no material facts are in dispute as to whether time spent by class members waiting for and undergoing exit searches pursuant to the Policy is compensable as “hours worked” under California law, Plaintiffs are entitled to summary judgment on that legal question.
We reverse the district court’s grant of Apple’s motion for summary judgment and denial of Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, and we remand for further proceedings with instructions to
(1) grant Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment on the issue of whether time spent by class members waiting for and undergoing exit searches pursuant to the Policy is compensable as “hours worked” under California law, and
(2) determine the remedy to be afforded to individual class members.
Apple’s “Employee Package and Bag Searches” policy, quoted from the decision:
Employee Package and Bag Searches
All personal packages and bags must be checked by a manager or security before leaving the store.
All employees, including managers and Market Support employees, are subject to personal package and bag searches. Personal technology must be verified against your Personal Technology Card (see section in this document) during all bag searches.
Failure to comply with this policy may lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
- Find a manager or member of the security team (where applicable) to search your bags and packages before leaving the store.
- Do not leave the store prior to having your personal package or back [sic] searched by a member of management or the security team (where applicable).
- Do not have personal packages shipped to the store. In the event that a personal package is in the store, for any reason, a member of management or security (where applicable) must search that package prior to it leaving the store premises.
All Apple employees, including Campus employees, are subject to personal pack age [sic] checks upon exiting the store for any reason (break, lunch, end of shift). I t [sic] is the employee’s responsibility to ensure all personal packages are checked b y [sic] the manager-on-duty prior to exiting the store.
When checking employee packages, follow these guidelines:
- Ask the employee to open every bag, brief case, back pack, purse, etc.
- Ask the employee to remove any type of item that Apple may sell. Be sure to verify the serial number of the employee’s personal technology against the personal technology log.
- Visually inspect the inside of the bag and view its contents. Be sure to ask the employee to unzip zippers and compartments so you can inspect the entire co ntents [sic] of the bag. If there are bags within a bag, such as a cosmetics case, be sure to ask the employee to open these bags as well.
- At no time should you remove any items inside the bag or touch the employee’s personal belongings. If something looks questionable, ask the employee to move or remove items from the bag so that the bag check can be completed.
- In the event that a questionable item is found, ask the employee to remove t he [sic] item from the bag. Apple will reserve the right to hold onto the questioned i tem [sic] until it can be verified as employee owned. (This will make the employee mor e [sic] aware to log in all items at start of shift).
- If item cannot be verified by [the manager on duty], contact Loss Prevention . . . .