US court rules Apple must pay California workers during bag checks

Andrew Cummings
February 16, 2020

The California Supreme Court unanimously ruled in San Francisco on Thursday that Apple Inc. workers must be paid for the time they spend checking their bags and iPhones when they leave work.

A lower court had previously sided with Apple, ruling that time spent by employees waiting for the exit searches can not be considered "hours worked" under California law. The decision is retroactive, but it was not immediately clear how much Apple would have to pay.

The workers reportedly felt that they were still under Apple's control for the five to 20 minute time period it took for them to be searched and as a result, should be compensated for their time.

The unanimous court decision, shared today by Bloomberg Law and The Los Angeles Times, dates back to a class action lawsuit filed against Apple in 2013.

All retail employees of the Steve Jobs-founded tech giant are required to have their bags, Apple products and any other property searched to ensure they are not taking anything from the stores or facilities.

"Apple can adapt its bag search policy as narrowly or widely as it wishes and can minimize the time required for outbound searches", Cantil-Sakauye wrote.

These sorts of invasive and unpaid searches have been the subject of a few similar suits, the closest analogue of which involves Amazon workers and has been circling the courts for a decade.

A federal district court judge ruled in favor of Apple, deciding that workers had to prove they not only were restrained from leaving but that there was no way to avoid having personal items searched. It particularly focused on the fact that Apple felt employees didn't necessarily need to bring their iPhones to work. Failure to comply could lead to termination of the employee, the lawsuit said. The company argued that this policy benefited the employees being searched, which the court said was "far-fetched". Apple didn't reply to an e mail from The Verge looking for remark.

"The irony and inconsistency of Apple's argument must be noted", the court added.

"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", reads the ruling.

California presently wants cost for the time employees members make investments endeavor obligatory security and safety checks.

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