Frlekin v Apple, Inc 2020
In this important employee’s rights case, the Supreme Court of California found that Apple, as well as other employers, need to pay employees for the time that the employees spent at Apple's retail stores waiting for a mandatory exit search of the employee's personal belongings. The time spent waiting for the search was actually compensable, as well as the time spent undergoing the search. In other words, employees have to be paid for the time that they spend waiting for an exit search at work, as well as being paid for the time spent undergoing the search itself.
Apple mandated that it's employees that worked at the retail locations in malls would have to undergo a required search of their bags, purses, briefcases, backpacks, and packages after they clocked out. Apple said this was necessary in order to prevent the employees from stealing Apple phones while on their job duty. However, Apple was not paying its employees for this time that they had to wait for the exit search and would not pay them for the time of the actual search. As a result, the employees brought a class action lawsuit against Apple in an effort to get the court to award their rightful wages earned.
Some of the employees testified that it could take up to 45 minutes for this search to be completed by either the Apple Manager or the security employee. As a result, Apple employees brought a class action lawsuit. The lawsuit alleged that Apple failed to pay the employees minimum wages and overtime wages for the time the employees spent waiting for an undergoing the require exit search.
The employees actually had to appeal this case to the Supreme Court of California because the original court granted Apples request to dismiss the case and held that the time the employees spent waiting was not compensable as "hours worked" under the Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order Number 7. Under Wage Order Number 7, employers must pay employees for “hours worked” when either the worker is subject to the employers’ control or when the employer requires or allows the employee to work.
Apple attempted to argue that they did not have to pay the employees because they were not actually working during this time. However, the Supreme Court reversed the ruling and held in favor of the employees, ruling that Apple must pay its workers for the time spent undergoing the exit search.
The court based its ruling on the fact that the employee is under the control of Apple while they're waiting. Apple controls its employees by requiring the search and confines its workers to Apples premises while they wait for the search. Some employees were even forced to look around the store and find their manager or security employee to perform the search, which took more of the employee’s time and they weren't getting paid for that either because they had to clock out first.
Another big point was that the Supreme Court found that the searches were being performed for Apple's benefit, since it was designed to prevent financial loss to Apple and did not benefit the employees at all.
The court also stated that the search could not be avoided by employees since employees had to bring personal belongings to work such as purses. In addition, Apple requires their workers to wear approved clothing at work, but they also had to remove the clothing or cover up the clothing when they were not at work, so employees would have to bring extra clothing and would need a bag to bring it in. Apple employees also had to bring their own cell phones to work as it is hard to live without one these days. Looking at the employee’s phones to make sure it wasn’t stolen was also part of the search. One employee right’s attorney argued that Tim Cook (Apple’s CEO) himself said, “How can you go anywhere these days without a cell phone”. This comment certainly helped the employees’ case!
In the end it was the fact that Apple exercised significant control over the workers during this search and as a result, Apple had to pay its employees for this time they spent waiting and undergoing the search. If your employer is requiring you to stay after work for a search and is not paying you for it, you may have a case for compensation and should call the employee rights attorneys at Nassir Law Group today, the consultation is free. (949) 375-4734.