Fri, 29 May 2020

Employers regularly end up on the wrong side of the law when they attempt to find creative ways of underpaying their workers.

Apple was sued by workers who were required to submit to unpaid searches to ensure that they were not stealing from stores.

California courts rule that Apple employees should be paid for mandatory anti-theft searches

The California Supreme Court decided that workers must be paid for the time they spend waiting and being searched as part of a standard procedure that the company adopted.

The initial claim is related to a class-action lawsuit that was brought by several Apple Store workers. The tech company required them to be searched before they could end their shift and leave, but they were not initially compensated for this extra time. All 52 Apple retail locations in the state of California had this policy. As the workers exited the store, they were required to submit to searches of bags, packages, handbags, purses, briefcases, and even electronic devices like iPhones. It was uncontested that an employee would be terminated if they did not submit to the required search at the end of each shift. An employee was required to find a supervisor to conduct the search as they were ready to leave. This procedure could take anywhere between 5 and 45 minutes, depending on how busy the store was at the time.

The court looked at a standard wage order, which defined hours worked as any time that an employee is subject to the employer's control, as well as all times that the worker is required to, or available to complete work. Under this definition, it seems that mandatory searches where employees were not free to leave would count as work that needs to be compensated appropriately. Apple attempted to argue that if employees did not want to be searched, they could simply not bring bags or other personal items to work, but the courts rejected this idea. They also tried to argue that they could have put a total ban on any personal items brought in the workplace, but the court reacted strongly to this argument saying such a ban would be draconian and absurd.

Proper payment for hours worked

It is common for employers to end up in court if they have not kept appropriate records of wages or not paid employees the right amount for the total hours worked. Various regulations prevent employers from requiring work that is not compensated, and any required work beyond 40 hours must be compensated at an overtime rate .

Get in touch with a local labor and employment attorney

There are lawyers who focus on lawsuits against employers throughout the state of California. You can browse the listings on to find the right professional in your city.

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