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A federal court in California yesterday sided with Apple, and not employees, dismissing a class-action lawsuit by workers seeking compensation for unpaid time spent in bag searches. The judge considered the searches unrelated to work, Tech Times reported.
The lawsuit was filed by five Apple employees who represented more than 12,000 workers in 52 retail store locations in California. They claimed that Apple's searches took five to ten minutes every day and that, over a year, this amounted to $1,500 in unpaid wages per employee.
US District Judge William Alsup was not at all moved by plaintiff's claims. He suggested that employees could have come to work without any items to search and solved the issue for themselves. The judge also pointed out that the searches were not work, just waiting, and so not eligible for compensation.
"The time our plaintiffs spent waiting for the searches to be completed plainly does not constitute 'work' under the 'suffered or permitted' prong," Alsup said in his ruling. "Neither the searches nor waiting for them to be completed had any relationship to their job responsibilities. They cannot be compensated for that passive activity."
The employees previously complained to Apple CEO Tim Cook in a letter that the bag checks were demeaning and insulting. Clearly, neither the CEO nor the judge agreed with workers and searches will continue.
Employers should consider what the workers in this case were saying. They do not want to be treated like thieves and they do want their time respected. These are not impossible goals for an employer to meet.
If you do run a retail store and are concerned about security, is there something else you could do besides searching your employees daily? If you do search them, would you consider paying for their added time?
From a worker's perspective, Apple, which does extremely well and makes much money, is nickel and diming employees. You may not need every individual who works for you specifically, but you probably should not dismiss general complaints without consideration. There may be alternatives that do not end with workers organizing a class action against your company.
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