Apple Wins Employee Bag Check Case in Federal Court

appleEven if you don’t work for Apple, you should care about a federal court decision relating to California Apple employees. A judge recently dismissed a class action lawsuit in which Apple employees claimed they should have been paid for time waiting to have their bags checked after they got off work.

The case was first brought in 2013 by Amanda Friekin and four other hourly workers. They originally made claims under both federal and state wage and hour laws, but at the time the recent decision was issued, only the state law claims remained.

California law requires that nonexempt, hourly employees be paid for “hours worked.” Wage Order 4 requires two things before time is considered as “hours worked.” First, the employee must be “subject to the control of an employer.” Second, the term includes “all the time the employee is suffered or permitted to work.”

The employees took issue with an Apple policy that required them to have their bags searched when they left work. Bags of all types were subject to search: purses, backpacks, briefcases, or otherwise. The company policy also required employees who brought Apple devices to work with them to have the device serial numbers checked by a manager or security guard as they left. Apple adopted the policy because of concerns of employee theft of products, and it was applied in all of the company’s California stores.

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The employees were required to clock out before bag searches took place, so they were not paid for this time. They felt they should have been paid for time spent waiting for a manager or security guard, as well as time spent waiting in line. All of the employees in the lawsuit agreed that they brought their devices and bags in voluntarily; none of them claimed that they had to bring a bag to work due to some type of special need.

The court rejected the employees’ wage claims, granting summary dismissal to Apple. The employees could not meet the requirements of Wage Order 4, as they chose to bring their bags and Apple technology with them to work. There was no question that employees could show that their activity was restricted during the searches; however, they could easily have avoided the searches by leaving their bags and Apple-manufactured devices at home.

This opinion has wide implications, even for employees who do not work for Apple. It means that nonexempt, hourly employees do not have a right under California law to be compensated for time spent waiting for bag searches if they can avoid the searches by leaving their personal items at home. However, a different result may occur when such an employee needs to bring the bag in, such as for medical reasons.

If you are seeking a wage and hour attorney in California, contact us today.

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2017-12-13T21:46:35+00:00 February 4th, 2016|Wage and Hour|