Apple Store employees are subject to have their bags searched prior to leaving the store at the end of their shift to check for stolen goods or properties. Employees have raised concern over the fact that the behavior breaks California state law. Staffers put forth a case in California, Apple won that case, it got appealed, and sent to a higher court for clarification, as MacRumors reported in February of this year:
Employees at the time alleged that Apple subjected them to mandatory bag checks that were conducted off the clock, leaving them uncompensated for their time. At the trial level, Apple actually won the lawsuit when the court ruled that Apple employees chose to bring personal bags to work and dismissed the case, but the decision was appealed and brought to a higher court.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is now handling the case, asked the California Supreme Court to clarify whether California state law requires compensation, and the California Supreme Court ruled that the law does indeed dictate that employees be compensated while waiting for bag checks.
On Wednesday, the 9th Circuit made a ruling, stating that Apple must pay employees for the time they spend as they undergo bag searches, Bloomberg Law reports. Apple had told the court in the hearing that a decision to force pay wouldn’t be fair given some employees don’t bring bags or devices with them to work and that some stores had automated break rooms for storage. The court rejected the claim.
In theory, these searches should be brief, in which case a few minutes pay would not result in such massive court proceedings. However, the court said that sometimes the searches by Apple took hours meaning many employees weren’t get paid fairly for still being at work.
Apple Store employees had even voiced their concern directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook. In court filings unsealed in 2015, reported by Reuters, at least 2 retail employees told the CEO that the searches were “embarrassing and demeaning.” The CEO forwarded the emails to an executive within Apple’s HR department asking “Is this true?”
What response Mr. Cook received is unknown. However, Apple’s VP of HR at the time, Denise Young Smith said “If it is simply a deterrent there has to be a more intelligent and respectful way to approach.”