On February 13, 2020, the Ninth Circuit of the Supreme Court of California ordered Apple to pay lost wages to employees who had to wait up to 45 minutes for bag checks before leaving work.
The court order, submitted by Judge Tani Cantil-Sakauye, comes after a nearly seven-year battle between two employees and the tech giant.
In 2013, Apple employees Amanda Frleking and Dean Pelle led a class-action lawsuit against the company which claimed that Apple should pay employees while waiting for security searches after they clocked out.
A US District Court judge dismissed the case in 2015, but lawyers representing the employees appealed to the Supreme Court of California a year later.
While the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the employees, the case must return to the District Court for a final ruling.
In many cases, the District Court will use the Supreme Court’s opinion to make a final ruling.
Judge Tani Cantil-Sakauye stated that Apple’s main argument was unreasonable. They claimed that employees weren’t required to bring bags to work, so they could avoid security checks altogether.
Cantil-Sayauke wrote in her decision that since “Apple requires its employees to wear Apple-branded apparel while working but directs them to remove or cover up such attire while outside the Apple store, it is reasonable to assume that some employees will carry their work uniform or a change of clothes in a bag in order to comply with Apple’s compulsory dress code policy.”
According to Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations, employers must pay their employees wages for all “hours worked”, which is defined as “the time during which an employee is subject to the control of an employer…whether or not required to do so.”
Based on this reasoning, the Supreme Court ruled that because Apple requires employees to submit to a search, they must pay employees for being under employer control.
What Comes Next?
Apple must now calculate an appropriate settlement amount for every store employee.
While this settlement amount is most likely in the range of seven figures, it could take more than a year for employees to receive any back pay.
Similarities to Other Class Action Lawsuits
Several California employers have been accused recently for not paying wages during security checks.
In April 2019, Dick’s Sporting Goods settled an unpaid security check lawsuit against the company for $2.9 million, which they paid out to nearly 11,000 current and former California employees.
In July 2019, employees who worked for Nike and its subsidiary company Converse filed a class-action lawsuit against the parent company for not paying employees during required exit inspections when they left their stores.
While Nike tried to have the case dismissed under the federal de minimis doctrine since the amount of time during checks was small and irregular, the 9th Circuit ruled that the federal doctrine did not apply to wage claims brought under California Labor Code.
California Class Action Lawsuit Attorneys
When a group of employees shares a common complaint against their employer, they can seek a class-action lawsuit.
In California, class-action lawsuits hold employers accountable for wrongful actions against their workforce, protecting future employees from harm and compensating past or current employees.