Apple to pay $30M to retail employees for off-the-clock bag, device searches

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Apple has offered to pay $30 million in a settlement with retail employees who claimed they were subject to routine, off-the-clock searches of their bags before leaving work.

Credit: Laurenz Heymann/Unsplash
Credit: Laurenz Heymann/Unsplash


Lawyers for the Apple staffers urged the court to approve the $29.9 million settlement, calling it a "significant, non-reversionary settlement reached after nearly eight years of hard-fought litigation," Courthouse News reported Friday.

The lawsuit originated in 2013, when a class of employees sued Apple, arguing that they should be paid for the time spent undergoing security checks of their bags and devices. The torturous case has been through both the Ninth Circuit, as well as the California Supreme Court, which ruled in February 2020that Apple should be on the hook for mandatory searches.

In the California Supreme Court ruling, justices criticized Apple for its seemingly inconsistent arguments regarding iPhones and other devices. During the legal dispute, Apple argued that employees could have left their devices at home to avoid them being searched.

"The irony and inconsistency of Apple's argument must be noted. 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," wrote California Supreme Court Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.

Apple implemented the practice in 2013, requiring that employees complied with the regulation or face termination. The court found that Apple wielded control over employees, forcing them to find a manager or security guard before they could leave a retail store for breaks or shift ends.

Retail workers had to open compartments in their bags and follow the commands of searches. They also had to allow their Apple products to be inspected and verified during the searches.

Apple argued that it didn't control its employees during searches, and they were free to leave their bags at home to avoid them.

The California Supreme Court disagreed with that characterization, and referred to a legal requirement in the state's wage law that indicates employees should be entitled to compensation during the time they are subject to a company's control.

"Applying a strictly textual analysis, Apple employees are clearly under Apple's control while awaiting, and during, the exit searches. Apple controls its employees during this time in several ways," Cantil-Sakauye wrote.

Employees in the class of nearly 12,000 current and former Apple Store staffers in California can stand to receive a maximum payment of about $1,200, if the settlement is approved.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,611member
    If a company requires an employee to spend their time on something as a condition of employment then the employee should be compensated for that time. That’s not that radical of an idea.
    MacsWithPenguinselijahgStrangeDaysronnbaconstangdarkvaderGeorgeBMacmuthuk_vanalingamcuriousrun8jcs2305
  • Reply 2 of 20
    I would never work for Apple with conditions like these, with no trust in employees. This is basically assuming they steal. Why not keep track of their inventory and raise questions with staff if something actually happens? Did they frequently have incidents in the past which made Apple act this way? I have so many questions about Apple’s reasons.
    edited November 2021 elijahgwilliamlondonronndarkvadercuriousrun8corp1
  • Reply 3 of 20
    MplsP said:
    If a company requires an employee to spend their time on something as a condition of employment then the employee should be compensated for that time. That’s not that radical of an idea.
    It’s not as simple as that. It’s not a condition of employment at all, since they encourage you to avoid it entirely by not bringing stuff. From Apple’s perspective, if you choose to bring things to the workplace that you won’t/shouldn’t be using at the workplace on Apple’s dime, they’re not going to pay you for the extra time that you and they have to spend to make sure nobody is stealing anything. It’s not productive work time, it’s not a huge percentage of your work day, and it’s not like Apple is charging for the additional labor involved in monitoring this stuff on their end. It’s still better than just saying you can’t bring stuff, which would be lousy but certainly within their rights. To me a better analogy would be a company that requires you to wear a uniform, and gives you the option of changing into your uniform when you arrive since that would be more convenient for many people, but they aren’t going to pay you for the time it takes for you to get changed in and out of your uniform, if you do it at work, and not compensate those who put on their uniforms at home.

    if you’re getting paid for it, you could presumably make a little extra cash or work a little less if you always brought a whole bunch of stuff that was onerous to search. 

    That said, I’m all for workers getting paid fairly. If I were in Apple’s position, I would have tried to get the workers to agree to a slight across-the-board raise that would account for the average time that a worker typically spends getting searched and might not have initially realized they would be responsible for when they signed their contracts, which seems like it would be the fairest for all workers because it doesn’t disproportionately benefit those who bring stuff to work over those who don’t. 
    edited November 2021 williamlondonroundaboutnowapplguy
  • Reply 4 of 20
    MplsP said:
    If a company requires an employee to spend their time on something as a condition of employment then the employee should be compensated for that time. That’s not that radical of an idea.
    It’s pretty pathetic that Apple didn’t just pay them for their time and avoid the whole legal situation.
    elijahgronndarkvaderGeorgeBMactokyojimucuriousrun8corp1
  • Reply 5 of 20
    I'm not sure what US law says, but in Canada there is a court precedent that if you slip and are injured on the company's own parking lot, while on your way to work, you are eligible to worker's compensation rather than having to take sick leave.

    So it's not just while your bags are being frisked here in Canada, it's also when you are outside the building on company property. But there are not many people who know this, so they probably claim sick leave if they are injured on a company-owned parking lot.
    ronndarkvader
  • Reply 6 of 20
    Another stimulus check for a number of Apple employees living in California.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 7 of 20
    ronnronn Posts: 504member
    It's absolutely ridiculous that Apple wasted all this time and money fighting when they could have settled years ago and stopped the stupidity. I worked in retail years ago and similar security schemes were scuttled or modified when it became nonsensical. In one instance lockers were provided off the selling floor and inventory areas so employees never had an opportunity to place items in their bags. In both situations, security checks were conducted with enhanced numbers: more security guards joined by supervisors, and when necessary even managers to make sure employees were not inconvenienced for more than a 2/3 minutes tops. What does it say about Apple that it fought this all the way to the State Supreme Court and for close to a decade?  :#
    GeorgeBMacmuthuk_vanalingamcuriousrun8corp1elijahg
  • Reply 8 of 20
    MplsP said:
    If a company requires an employee to spend their time on something as a condition of employment then the employee should be compensated for that time. That’s not that radical of an idea.
    It’s not as simple as that. It’s not a condition of employment at all, since they encourage you to avoid it entirely by not bringing stuff. From Apple’s perspective, if you choose to bring things to the workplace that you won’t/shouldn’t be using at the workplace on Apple’s dime, they’re not going to pay you for the extra time that you and they have to spend to make sure nobody is stealing anything. It’s not productive work time, it’s not a huge percentage of your work day, and it’s not like Apple is charging for the additional labor involved in monitoring this stuff on their end. It’s still better than just saying you can’t bring stuff, which would be lousy but certainly within their rights. To me a better analogy would be a company that requires you to wear a uniform, and gives you the option of changing into your uniform when you arrive since that would be more convenient for many people, but they aren’t going to pay you for the time it takes for you to get changed in and out of your uniform, if you do it at work, and not compensate those who put on their uniforms at home.

    if you’re getting paid for it, you could presumably make a little extra cash or work a little less if you always brought a whole bunch of stuff that was onerous to search. 

    That said, I’m all for workers getting paid fairly. If I were in Apple’s position, I would have tried to get the workers to agree to a slight across-the-board raise that would account for the average time that a worker typically spends getting searched and might not have initially realized they would be responsible for when they signed their contracts, which seems like it would be the fairest for all workers because it doesn’t disproportionately benefit those who bring stuff to work over those who don’t. 
    You're wrong. It's incredibly more simple than that and it's clear every legal body that has any oversight with this agrees.

    If Apple requires you to be present and participate in an activity, whether you are on the floor selling or in the bathroom farting, you get paid. It's plain and simple. If they demand something of the employees that takes their private time, you pay. Contrary to what you think, it doesn't matter whether or not it is five seconds, five minutes or five hours. 

    I find it stunning that you have made a real effort to picture the employees who want to be paid for a mandatory activity as the bad guys. It's insulting.

    This is the kind f stuff that will lead to a union shop. I'd love to hear how someone who has opinions like yours would like that.
    edited November 2021 ronndarkvadermuthuk_vanalingamcuriousrun8elijahg
  • Reply 9 of 20
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,738member
    I would never work for Apple with conditions like these, with no trust in employees. This is basically assuming they steal. Why not keep track of their inventory and raise questions with staff if something actually happens? Did they frequently have incidents in the past which made Apple act this way? I have so many questions about Apple’s reasons.
    Look, bag checks are pretty much standard procedure in retail, it's not an Apple-only policy.

    Different industries have different policies to minimize employees taking advantage of the system. Ever go to a restaurant or bar and see security cameras? A lot of these are to monitor employees not guests.

    Heck, the modern restaurant POS system is designed to prevent some waiter from walking to the kitchen and saying "Hey, fire a 32 ounce porterhouse" and not entering the order into the system, then pocketing the money. No ticket, no food.

    I still benefit from my regular bartenders comping me drinks. The industry calls this "tip enhancement." The restaurants in question probably still know that it's happening. Some places have flow meters on beer lines. Fine dining restaurant workers get checked to make sure they aren't walking away with $200 tins of caviar or $500 bottles of wine.

    Note that the bag check policy isn't what was being contested. The problem was that Apple's enforcement outside of the timecard. Apple employees were off the clock then being forced to wait for a company activity. Employees basically should be paid when they are doing things that the company requires them to do.

    Whether you sell electronic gadgets, jewelry, whatever, these are the same. Counting your cash drawer at the end of the shift is the same.

    There are worker protection laws for this type of thing and that's why Apple is settling. It's not much different than a company compensating employees for making employees working through rightful breaks or overtime.

    Note that a company doesn't make every employee theft public. Let's say some Apple employee is stealing Apple Store gift card activation codes or some hotel employee is stealing VIP lounge passes. Their names aren't going to hit the front pages. A lot of this monitoring is a deterrent.
    edited November 2021 baconstang
  • Reply 10 of 20
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,026member
    "nearly" 12,000 people, max $1,200 payout, total $14,400,000.  So why the £29.9m in the article? 
  • Reply 11 of 20
    12000 employees x $1200 each, leaves a lazy sum of $16million for the lawyers 🙄
    corp1
  • Reply 12 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    What is odd about this whole thing is:
    Apple trusts its customers but not its employees!

    They apparently do trust their customers to not steal:  2 days ago I went into my Apple Store to get one of their new chargers that were laying in the open on a table near the back of the store.  After I paid, they handed me the box and thanked me without putting it into a bag.   When I said:  "I feel funny walking out holding this -- won't somebody think I'm stealing it?"   They said:  "Nope!  Nobody will challenge you!"
    elijahg
  • Reply 13 of 20
    MplsP said:
    If a company requires an employee to spend their time on something as a condition of employment then the employee should be compensated for that time. That’s not that radical of an idea.
    It’s pretty pathetic that Apple didn’t just pay them for their time and avoid the whole legal situation.
    Apple is not a charity. 
  • Reply 14 of 20
    The headline is factually incorrect, the way I understand it. Apple is paying total, but only a fraction actually goes to the employees.
  • Reply 15 of 20
    I would never work for Apple with conditions like these, with no trust in employees. This is basically assuming they steal. Why not keep track of their inventory and raise questions with staff if something actually happens? Did they frequently have incidents in the past which made Apple act this way? I have so many questions about Apple’s reasons.
    And while we are at it, why don‘t we abandon those nasty little tags on clothing that are removed when paying, speedttraps, and doorlocks, since all these measures assume we‘re thieves, or lawbreakers. /s
  • Reply 16 of 20
    applguy said:
    MplsP said:
    If a company requires an employee to spend their time on something as a condition of employment then the employee should be compensated for that time. That’s not that radical of an idea.
    It’s pretty pathetic that Apple didn’t just pay them for their time and avoid the whole legal situation.
    Apple is not a charity. 
    No shit. Really? I thought they were the fucking Salvation Army.
    GeorgeBMacronncuriousrun8elijahg
  • Reply 17 of 20
    applguy said:
    MplsP said:
    If a company requires an employee to spend their time on something as a condition of employment then the employee should be compensated for that time. That’s not that radical of an idea.
    It’s pretty pathetic that Apple didn’t just pay them for their time and avoid the whole legal situation.
    Apple is not a charity. 
    No shit. Really? I thought they were the fucking Salvation Army.
    applguy said:
    MplsP said:
    If a company requires an employee to spend their time on something as a condition of employment then the employee should be compensated for that time. That’s not that radical of an idea.
    It’s pretty pathetic that Apple didn’t just pay them for their time and avoid the whole legal situation.
    Apple is not a charity. 
    No shit. Really? I thought they were the fucking Salvation Army.
    I think what he wanted to convey is that simply saying “eff it, let’s pay them off” without being clear on the legal side would earn them 10 out of 10 for good style and altruism, but likely minus one million in the next shareholder meeting. If the case would have been that obvious I don’t think it would take that long and all those courts. 
  • Reply 18 of 20
    MplsP said:
    If a company requires an employee to spend their time on something as a condition of employment then the employee should be compensated for that time. That’s not that radical of an idea.
    It’s not as simple as that. It’s not a condition of employment at all, since they encourage you to avoid it entirely by not bringing stuff. From Apple’s perspective, if you choose to bring things to the workplace that you won’t/shouldn’t be using at the workplace on Apple’s dime, they’re not going to pay you for the extra time that you and they have to spend to make sure nobody is stealing anything. It’s not productive work time, it’s not a huge percentage of your work day, and it’s not like Apple is charging for the additional labor involved in monitoring this stuff on their end. It’s still better than just saying you can’t bring stuff, which would be lousy but certainly within their rights. To me a better analogy would be a company that requires you to wear a uniform, and gives you the option of changing into your uniform when you arrive since that would be more convenient for many people, but they aren’t going to pay you for the time it takes for you to get changed in and out of your uniform, if you do it at work, and not compensate those who put on their uniforms at home.

    if you’re getting paid for it, you could presumably make a little extra cash or work a little less if you always brought a whole bunch of stuff that was onerous to search. 

    That said, I’m all for workers getting paid fairly. If I were in Apple’s position, I would have tried to get the workers to agree to a slight across-the-board raise that would account for the average time that a worker typically spends getting searched and might not have initially realized they would be responsible for when they signed their contracts, which seems like it would be the fairest for all workers because it doesn’t disproportionately benefit those who bring stuff to work over those who don’t. 
    It really is that simple and your uniform analogy is a poor one because one would also imagine a company like Apple, doesn't allow you to wear your "uniform" outside of work. So where are they supposed to put their uniform? In a bag right?

    Second, if a person has to stay at the job as part of their employment for any reason that is not their choice (paperwork, emails, training, meeting), they should be paid for that time. If a person is waiting more than 5 minutes per shift, not even including if they have to wait for this bag check to take breaks, that quickly adds up to unpaid time over the course of the year that can equal anywhere from $500-2000 a year depending on the employees hourly wage. Again, that's not even including if they are subjected to the same policy to take breaks as well.

    It's not reasonable to ask someone not to bring their own bag for personal items to work, especially for women, that's silly and you and Apple look silly for suggesting something like that. People may need hygiene products, medication, be going to school before/after, etc.
    edited November 2021 muthuk_vanalingamMplsPelijahg
  • Reply 19 of 20
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,262member
    I would never work for Apple with conditions like these, with no trust in employees. This is basically assuming they steal. Why not keep track of their inventory and raise questions with staff if something actually happens? Did they frequently have incidents in the past which made Apple act this way? I have so many questions about Apple’s reasons.
    26,000 employees were apprehended last year for retail they. That 26K represents those that were actually caught. Yes retail employees steal it's a fact. B)

    In total, 26,463 dishonest employees were apprehended, according to the 33rd Annual Retail Theft Survey, but the value of each event was higher. Last year each employee theft averaged $1219.61 (up 3.8 per cent in 2020).May 28, 2021


    Tracking inventory is how they know employees are stealing..come on are you serious with this? I worked for a clothing store back in the 90's while I was in college. They checked all bags every night before we all left..every night. They didn't dock pay for it, but they checked bags.

    It's not an Apple thing in the least.. as someone else said though, they should have just paid the people while they waited to be checked in the 1st place. It makes Apple look cheap as shit, and gives people such as yourself, the idea that Apple is somehow wrong for checking employee's bags and possibly the only retail store that would do such a thing.




  • Reply 20 of 20
    jcs2305 said:
    I would never work for Apple with conditions like these, with no trust in employees. This is basically assuming they steal. Why not keep track of their inventory and raise questions with staff if something actually happens? Did they frequently have incidents in the past which made Apple act this way? I have so many questions about Apple’s reasons.
    26,000 employees were apprehended last year for retail they. That 26K represents those that were actually caught. Yes retail employees steal it's a fact. B)

    In total, 26,463 dishonest employees were apprehended, according to the 33rd Annual Retail Theft Survey, but the value of each event was higher. Last year each employee theft averaged $1219.61 (up 3.8 per cent in 2020).May 28, 2021


    Tracking inventory is how they know employees are stealing..come on are you serious with this? I worked for a clothing store back in the 90's while I was in college. They checked all bags every night before we all left..every night. They didn't dock pay for it, but they checked bags.

    It's not an Apple thing in the least.. as someone else said though, they should have just paid the people while they waited to be checked in the 1st place. It makes Apple look cheap as shit, and gives people such as yourself, the idea that Apple is somehow wrong for checking employee's bags and possibly the only retail store that would do such a thing.
    The process to leave went something like this: punch out in back of house, go to the sales floor to find the current manager, present your device with serial number visible along with your “tech card” reflecting your known serial numbers, walk out. The “tech check” typically took a few seconds if all an employee was carrying was an iPhone. Obviously, if an employee brought multiple devices they all needed to be checked and if they were carrying a bag it would get a quick once over. 

    As you said, pretty typical in a retail environment. The problem for Apple was that to “punch in/punch out” an employee had to use the Issac device or a back of house Mac. That wasn’t supposed to be done on the sales floor. The “long part” was finding the available manager who was supposed to be on the sales floor but wasn’t always. 

    A decent solution would have been to let the floor manager mark that the employee had left and that would count as the punch out. That way the employee would have been paid almost to the moment the walked out the door. 
    elijahg
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