Apple Workers to Get $30 Million Settlement For Off the Clock Bag Checks
Under California wage and hour laws, employers are not allowed to force employees to perform off-the-clock work without pay. Working off the clock means that a worker completes duties for the employer without being paid. Some examples of off-the-clock work include preparing a worksite before a shift, cleaning up after clocking out or doing administrative work outside of regular work hours.
Many companies in the San Francisco Bay Area require employees to undergo mandatory security checks of their personal items before entering the workplace. Workers should be paid for the extra time they spend waiting for and going through a bag search as it is a work-related activity. Employers can be held accountable for not paying workers for off-the-clock tasks.
A lawsuit accused Apple of failing to pay thousands of retail employees for time spent going through mandatory security checks. Workers spent five to 20 minutes waiting for security guards to check their bags and iPhones before they were allowed to go on lunch breaks or leave the workplace after a shift ended.
The lawsuit has resulted in a $29.9 million settlement, marking the end of more than eight years of litigation that began in 2013. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco. It was certified as a class action in 2015.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the original summary judgment that was granted in Apple’s favor. In 2020, the court ruled that Apple had violated California labor law by failing to pay its employees for the bag searches.
The judge found that employees were under Apple’s control during the time they spent waiting for and going through the mandatory bag checks. Workers were required to find a manager or security officer before they could exit the workplace. As a result, the off-the-clock bag searches counted as hours worked, and employees should have been paid for them.
The court rejected Apple’s argument that workers had the choice to leave their bags and iPhones at home if they did not want to undergo security checks. The bag searches were imposed mainly to serve the employer’s purpose of preventing theft. Additionally, workers could face disciplinary action for refusing to comply.
The settlement amount will be divided among more than 14,600 current and former Apple employees across 52 California stores who were subjected to security checks from July 2009 to August 2015. Each worker will receive $1,286. The final settlement approval hearing is scheduled for July 7.
What makes off-the-clock work a tricky issue is that employers often find subtle ways to get employees to do job-related duties without pay. No matter how seemingly small a task is, you should be paid for the time you spend completing it.
You may feel intimidated about speaking up about your employer’s wage and hour violations, or you may simply be unaware of your rights as a worker. If you are not being paid for off-the-clock work, discuss your situation with an experienced San Francisco lawyer.
McCormack Law Firm can help you hold your employer accountable for failing to pay you the wages you are owed. Contact us today to learn more.
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