Apple Ordered to Pay California Store Employees for Overtime Due to Mandatory Bag Searches

Apple has been ordered to pay its retail team members overtime for the time spent having their bags checked at the end of their shifts.

According to a new report from Bloomberg, the ruling means Apple could have to pay millions of dollars to the more than 12,000 retail employees who work in Apple Stores around the state for the time their personal materials are checked prior to leaving after their shifts.

In a decision written by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the court said an industrial wage order defines hours worked as “the time during which an employee is subject to the control of an employer, and includes all the time the employee is suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to do so.”

Apple, which has 52 retail stores in California, requires its workers to submit to exit searches of their bags, packages, purses, backpacks, brief cases and personal Apple devices, such as iPhones, to deter theft. Failure to comply with the search policy can lead to termination.

The court found that because Apple requires the employee searches, the law requires the employees to be paid for their time.

“Apple may tailor its bag-search policy as narrowly or broadly as it desires and may minimize the time required for exit searches,” Cantil-Sakauye wrote. “But it must compensate those employees to whom the policy applies for the time spent waiting for and undergoing these searches.”

Steven Katz, a partner in the Los Angeles office of the law firm Constangy, Smith, Brooks & Prophete, said the decision could have a big impact on California’s approximately 3 million retail workers. “As many as half of them are probably directly affected by the new decision,” said Katz, who was not involved in the litigation.