back to article Apple bag-search class action sueball moves to Cali supreme court

Apple may have to pay its employees extra for time it spends rifling through their personal belongings at work, if it loses a long-running lawsuit that is now in front of the Californian Supreme Court. The American state’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is kicking the thorny question of whether employees are entitled to pay …

  1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Dear Lord!

    Is time spent on the employer’s premises waiting for, and undergoing, required exit searches of packages or bags voluntarily brought to work purely for personal convenience by employees compensable as “hours worked” within the meaning of California Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order No. 7?

    They need to ask a court a simple question like that?

  2. John H Woods Silver badge

    Re: Dear Lord!

    The only reason they need to ask a court is because it's the only body whose answer is authoritative. Obviousness is an irrelevance.

  3. ExampleOne

    Re: Dear Lord!

    Well, they aren't working, they are just standing around waiting...

    Honestly, this is the kind of male bovine excrement I long since stopped tolerating. If you aren't paying for my time, it's mine, so... But then I would never have lasted in an Apple store anyway.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Dear Lord!

    Probably due to the civil penalties,

    (1) Initial Violation -- $50.00 for each underpaid employee for each pay period during which the employee was underpaid in addition to the amount which is sufficient to recover unpaid wages.

    (2) Subsequent Violations -- $100.00 for each underpaid employee for each pay period during which the employee was underpaid in addition to an amount which is sufficient to recover unpaid wages.

    So my reading of that is $50 per employee for the first week then $100 for the every week after. How many employees and how long has it been going on for? However it's not clear what the "Pay Period" is, it could be a month.

    I could also add that as as any foo know, money talks.

  5. hellwig Silver badge

    Re: Dear Lord!

    "Honestly, this is the kind of male bovine excrement I long since stopped tolerating."

    Agreed. One employer mandated 40hours of guided training (i.e. lesson plans, teachers, etc..) to be entered into the system yearly (and performance reviews had to take this into account). Of course, that time was UNPAID!. So yeah, the company demanded an extra week of my time without compensation.

    Needless to say, I don't work there anymore.

  6. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Re: Dear Lord!

    @John H woods

    The only reason they need to ask a court is because it's the only body whose answer is authoritative. Obviousness is an irrelevance.

    But surely the obvious answer to a sane/caring/normal employer would be that of course the time counts as work and they get paid for it. Then no-one would complain (well, possibly about the principle, but not about not being paid)

    Actually I think I answered my own question. sane/caring/normal employer != Apple

  7. Ole Juul Silver badge

    Re: Dear Lord!

    I say they get double time for that.

  8. patrick tyrus

    Re: Dear Lord!

    The question is because they "can avoid the search" if they opted not to bring a bag to work

  9. ITBloke

    Re: Dear Lord!

    So if the iThing you want to steal is pocket sized, happy days! Maybe no iMacs or iPads but iPhones are just asking to be pocketed by non bag carrying staff! If the policy doesn't cover all items, its pointlessly invasive. But then again, what if an employee slips an iSumthin down his/her knickers, searching 'down there' would be a very, ahem, grey area. Seems more like a control thing to me than a useful policy.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. TheDillinquent

    Re: Dear Lord!

    Chump change for Apple

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    see previous comment about America = Third World Country

    its laughable that this needs to go to court to be worked out...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hey go easy on our American cousins ... they're having a tough time at the moment.

    Anyway - crap like this still goes on here in old blighty too ...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You DO NEED a court... deperately.

    Soon this will go on everywhere.

    What about faulty microchips implanted in employees, do you get paid for having yourself repaired? We know if it's left up to a corporation, you won't. Thus, you'll need to have it defined in law for otherwise.

    A MegaCorp is searching your private property AND detaining you without pay. So some people think a court should not be involved? The capitalist zombies have risen!

  15. Alan Brown Silver badge

    "Anyway - crap like this still goes on here in old blighty too ..."

    And it didn't take a court to come down with $LARGE fines on the companies caught doing it.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Holmes

    "its laughable that this needs to go to court to be worked out..."

    This wouldn't be in court at all. But Apple is very embarrassed about the public finding out about their .... shrinkage.

    The pool water was very cold that day...

  17. David Nash Silver badge

    Argos have just been told they have to cough up the minimum wage for this:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-40952205

  18. Robert Carnegie Silver badge
    Joke

    That number comes up as "Coffee Maker With Integrated Webcam". :-)

  19. James12345

    Robert Carnegie - Chapeau to you, sir.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When will this bosses realise it works both ways?

    At an old job, we were expected to arrive 15 minutes before shift for "handover". Needless to say, it wasn't paid.

    The result.

    People left off bang on time even if the work wasn't completed, never worked unpaid overtime, had the full 1 hour lunch (to the minute).

    Now rock up roughly about the right time, sometimes have the correct time for lunch, sometimes more, sometimes less. In all they get more "free" time out of me than the authoritarian company. Even in this company, there are managers that insist on the 9 - 5:30 of old and that exactly what they get, no more.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: When will this bosses realise it works both ways?

    I once got moaned at for my morning time keeping, never more than 5 or 10 minutes late (I'm not a morning person), but I'd sit at my desk eating my lunch at lunchtime, and answer calls/emails from customers if they came in.

    At the end of the day I'd take a call even if came in at 17:29 (1 minute before home time), and deal with it.

    It didn't take advanced mathematics to work out that the company were never down on work hours/minutes from me over the course of a day.

    But still they moaned.

    So for a solid month I was spot on time in the morning, out the door at 13:00 for lunch, before reappearing 59 minutes later, and I was off my chair and heading for the door at 17:30...

    Then they moaned about my attitude!

  22. anothercynic Silver badge

    Re: When will this bosses realise it works both ways?

    You didn't work for Computacenter in Hatfield, did you? According to acquaintances, that kind of pissy behaviour was typical there...

  23. Uk_Gadget

    Re: When will this bosses realise it works both ways?

    I work in Computacenter Hatfield, never had a problem with 'pissy behavior'. Been here twenty years now..

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: When will this bosses realise it works both ways?

    when I was working in local government late 80's to mid 90's, we had to be in the office for 08:30.

    We actually had to sign in.

    at 08:35, the payroll manager had to remove the signing in book and replace it with the 'tardy' book.

    you then saw a set of times entered from 08:36...

    Well, this had the desired effect on morale. at 16:59:30 most of the staff had their coats on for the 17:00:00 "le mons start" to race out the door to get away.

    We did not get flexible working patterns until the 1996 reorganisation!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: When will this bosses realise it works both ways?

    Not specifically based in Hatfield but there enough for various projects (I worked in Consultancy division), don't think I ever witnessed that behaviour personally. Saw people coming/going with flexibility. Perhaps it was worse for those working on the warehouse side of things?

  26. VinceH Silver badge

    Re: When will this bosses realise it works both ways?

    "Then they moaned about my attitude!"

    Hmm. Back in the stone age... my hours were 9-5:30 and I was often there up to 15 minutes early in the morning, and around 15 minutes later than that leaving at the end of the day, because of the bus times etc. And those extra chunks of the time were originally given freely to the company - I worked. And at lunchtime, if I was in the office, I typically worked.

    It was a salaried job, so there was no overtime anyway - but time sheets had to be kept for the purpose of billing clients. So even though I wasn't being paid for that extra time, the company was charging clients for it.

    I didn't mind until I asked for a few hours off for something (my holiday entitlement having already been used). I was asked if I'd be willing to make it up, so I pointed out that technically I was in credit - that didn't go down very well. (Amongst other things I was told that I "shouldn't be counting hours".)

    Thereafter, as you, I worked to rule and had that same complaint I've quoted.

  27. ps2os2

    Re: When will this bosses realise it works both ways?

    I used to be a manager (until I quit). One of the groups I managed was a help desk. I asked for volunteers to come in 15 minutes early on each shift to take turnover. This woman said she would. great, about a week afterward I came in 30 minutes and was doing something else and I watched her come in and sign in and sit down and read a book. I asked the shift people did she ever take turnover, and they said no. I let this go on a few days and watched her out of the side of one eye. I finally went over to her and asked her why she wasn't doing her assigned job to do a take over from the previous shift. She indicated, well if they had anything to say they would. I told her she couldn't come in 15 minutes early anymore and I would find another person to do takeover. She went straight to personal and complained that I was discriminating against her. I explained the situation to personal and they said I had to give her 2 weeks notice before taking her off. I was really mad. Next day I told her that she had 2 weeks and then no more overtime. She went up again to personal and complained. They called me up and I ask, what was the problem now? They said I could not tell her any more overtime, even though I would give it to others. I said fine next time there is an issue you will have to take care of it as you are micromanaging this. The woman was never offered over time again.

  28. DrM

    Re: When will this bosses realise it works both ways?

    So, why do you hate people because of their race/sex? :-)

  29. lglethal Silver badge
    Go

    Re: When will this bosses realise it works both ways?

    Shortly after I left one of my old firms (which had been super to work for, never any problems, etc.) they got a new Boss who was a complete d*ck. He removed Flex time, brought in rules that everyone had to be at work on time or you lost a minimum of 15 minutes pay, and overtime had to be approved 2 weeks in advance, not to mention a whole host of other d*ckish rules.

    My mate worked in concessions, i.e. when manufacturing screwed up, he had to decide how to fix it. One Thursday morning, he arrived 2 minutes late and was subsequently docked 15 minutes pay. The next day (friday) 5 minutes before closing time, his Boss came to him super worried, and said "I need you to take a quick look at this", the part was due to go out to the customer that day, was worth a couple of million to the company, and there would be hell to pay if it didnt go out. My mate calmly looked at his Boss, said, "Sorry but yesterday you docked me 15 minutes pay for being 5 minutes late, and unfortunately you didnt apply for this overtime 2 weeks ago, so I wont get paid for sticking around. So sorry, but bye!" and left whistling, happily.

    The part didnt go out until the Monday night, the customer hit the roof, and that new Boss was shown the door 2 weeks later. Apparently morale improved massively...

  30. AndyJenk

    Re: When will this bosses realise it works both ways?

    @drm Where did you get that idea from?

  31. AndyJenk

    Re: When will this bosses realise it works both ways?

    Surely the point in asking someone to come in 15 minutes early is so that they are ON TIME for taking over. Otherwise you could have just moved all shifts by 15 minutes, Or were you simply

    wanting people to work for nothing? Did the shift she was taking over from also arrive 15 minutes early?

    Perhaps you have not explained clearly?

  32. TheBoyMid

    Re: When will this bosses realise it works both ways?

    Sounds reasonable. Maybe to the bosses, the times you are present are more important than the hours you're there. Arriving late because 'you don't like mornings' sounds like you do have an attitude worth moaning about.

  33. 2460 Something
    Coffee/keyboard

    Re: When will this bosses realise it works both ways?

    @DrM

    I'm not sure 2 people understood your joke :D

  34. paulf Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Re: When will this bosses realise it works both ways?

    @VinceH "Amongst other things I was told that I "shouldn't be counting hours""

    It's interesting how we get berated because we shouldn't be counting hours while it's in their favour; until it's in our favour then those hours are suddenly counted to the minute.

    I recall accidentally admitting I kept a note of my hours during my first appraisal at the current gig (some years ago now) - the boss had complained I didn't work enough unpaid overtime (in his workaholic opinion) and I wanted to make clear that wasn't the case. He went absolutely loopy at the idea I was noting my hours which I took as a sign I absolutely must keep doing so for the very reasons you and many others in this thread have also found.

  35. Jtom Bronze badge

    Re: When will this bosses realise it works both ways?

    Same with me. My official hours were from 8am to 4:30pm, with an hour for lunch; a 7 1/2 hour workday. We weren't a customer-facing group, but dealt internally with our construction department that started work at 7:30am. For years I got to work at 7, took an hour lunch, and left a little after 4pm (I was escaping both morning and evening traffic jams); a workday in excess of 8 hours. An upper-level brain came in and said everyone must be at work from 8 to 4:30. So I did exactly that. Very quickly construction was complaining that they were losing a half-hour each day because they couldn't get answers from us before 8am. The brain only lasted a few months. His replacement just said, if you do the job done, on time and within the budget, I don't care how you do it. He's been there for years.

  36. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    Re: When will this bosses realise it works both ways?

    Early 90's, I had remaining vacation days I hadn't used at the end of the year (expected to take time off to visit family out of state). Christmas and end-of-year crunch came along, and I wasn't able to use those days. The owner had promised I'd be compensated for those days. Well, I wasn't, so when a similar situation happened the next year, the company accountant/CPA (who hadn't been there the prior year) made the same statement, I said "can I get that in writing?" He humorously says "what, don't you trust us?". I said "No."

    After he was taken aback by that, I explained why. He mumbled something about looking into it. DOn't recall if it did get settled, or if that was the year I left. It's so nice to see the company got bought out some time later, and the owner and management are long gone.

  37. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    But

    This is probably covered - but: if your bag contains necessary medicine or your emotional support animal, then is that "voluntary"?

  38. fajensen Silver badge

    Re: But

    Yeah - Because Bad Things only happen to Bad People and people can choose not to be Bad and then they wouldn't be ill or Something (The next thing to be decided by court, probably).

    What happens when someone booby-traps errr places a few really nasty sex articles in their bag? You know, For after-work activities? "'Ere Mate - Have a good Feel of That! I know that I just have!!"

  39. katrinab Silver badge

    Re: But

    or supply of tampons etc. Doesn't apply to all employees obviously, so could count as sex discrimination.

  40. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Windows

    Re: But

    "your emotional support animal, "

    Your what!?!?!?! Must be California....

  41. jonnycando

    I am suprised Apple can even search employee baggage at all. In my line of work, such activity has been ruled an illegal search. They can ask for us to show what we have, but we are within our rights to decline. And they can take no action if we do decline.

  42. Snorlax Silver badge

    @jonnycando

    @jonnycando:"I am suprised Apple can even search employee baggage at all. In my line of work, such activity has been ruled an illegal search."

    They probably agreed to being searched when they signed their employment contract. If you then refused to submit to a search you would then be breaking the terms of your contract, and could be fired.

    Lots of companies do this. Read your contracts people.

  43. jabuzz

    Re: @jonnycando

    Companies have a habit of putting all sorts of stuff in employment contracts that are not legal. They will even insist on doing when they have been told that that it is illegal and won't stand up in a court of law. Sometimes it is just a case of reusing old contracts when the law has changed but not always. I am not a lawyer but my siblings are; one is an employment tribunal judge so actually gets to decide what is and is not the law, and has never had any of his judgements successfully appealed either. So for the record of all the employment contracts I have signed in my life only my current one passes muster.

  44. Snorlax Silver badge

    Re: @jonnycando

    @jabuzz:"Companies have a habit of putting all sorts of stuff in employment contracts that are not legal. "

    If you agree to let your employer search you, they can. You can also say no and see how that works out.

    "I am not a lawyer but my siblings are; one is an employment tribunal judge so actually gets to decide what is and is not the law"

    U wot m8? An employment tribunal judge is a glorified referee. He's bound by the Employment Tribunals Rules of Procedure, and has no power to "decide what is and is not the law".

  45. Reue

    Re: @jonnycando

    My company put in it's "social media policy" that all employees must hand over upon request their usernames and passwords to all social media accounts. I'm told 99.8% of the company signed upon the dotted line except for 2 who refused. Those 2 would have been my brother and I. A quick chat with legal and pointing out the relevant data protection aspects and we had personalised policy documents which excluded this specific clause. Legal even agreed the terms should have never been included in the first place and would be removing it for all future starts.

    Just because some drone in HR copies and pastes something into a contract does not make it legal or enforceable.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Regarding searches, years back I worked as a 'Floorwalker' (undercover shoplifting prevention) for a national Clothing Store chain. At the end of their shift I would do a 'bag check'. Female and Male employees were required to open their Handbags, Knapsacks, Lunch-pails and any other container. I could not reach into any employees bags but they were required to move any item I asked them to do and open any compartments that I requested. Failing to do so would be taken care of the next day with the store's Manager firing the employee.

  47. Jtom Bronze badge

    I'm sure you could make an issue of it, but don't forget the employer has the ultimate trump card: Notice - effective 9-1-2017 no personnel can bring in personal items into the building. Bags and parcels are hereby prohibited unless it is job related or company property. Those items must be cleared at security to enter.

  48. Wommit

    @Jtom

    I would REALLY like to see a company try to enforce this. The amount of "things" people need to take with them is legend. Try telling a Type 2 diabetic s/he cannot have an emergency bar of chocolate / fizzy drink at hand, try telling a female she cannot have "ladies products" with her, try telling someone with a heart condition that they cannot have medicines at hand, wow, what crap that company would be in.

    In ALL jobs that I have been in there have been lockers, personal storage, etc for the personnel to use.

    NEVER have I had to leave my personnal belongings outside of my working environment. Sometimes I have had to change into personal protective gear, but my own stuff has been secured on site in a locked container.

  49. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    Re: @jonnycando

    My company put in it's "social media policy" that all employees must hand over upon request their usernames and passwords to all social media accounts.

    Doing so violates your usage agreement with that social media provider. Which means you can have that company brought up on charges for coercing you into breaking a contract with another party. Also, you could point out that, if they expect that their employees can so readily break an agreement with someone else, how can they then expect the employees to honor their agreements with their employer?

  50. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    I was at the local Gap Distribution Center for an interview in their IT department, and they had lockers outside the security entrance to the warehouse itself. Of course, your typical mall-located crApple Store wouldn't have room for such things. And I expect that the Microsoft Stores don't have to, because who's going to bother stealing a WindowsPhone? People usually steal things with some actual *value*.

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