monday, 20 july of 2015

Apple bag check lawsuit granted class action status

The US District Court for the Northeastern District of California on Thursday ruled that Apple retail workers may pursue a class action lawsuit against Apple for failure to compensate them for time taken to have their bags searched. The ruling by US District Judge William Alsup grants the motion of the plaintiffs to certify a potential class of over 12,400 former and current hourly-paid, non-exempt specialists, managers and "genius bar" employees who have worked in one of Apple's 52 California stores since July 25, 2009. The complaint filed by five Apple employees concerns the retailer's requirement that employees have their bags searched prior to leaving each day to ensure that no one has stolen anything from the store and states that the practice is both time consuming and demeaning. The issue in the case is whether the time waiting for these exit searches to be completed was compensable under California law. Apple argued that the case should be be tried on a class-wide basis as the store's written search policy was not uniformly followed and that some managers chose not to follow said policy. Apple admitted, however, that the company had nothing in writing granting such discretion to the store managers. The case will be litigated under the assumption that employees brought bags out of personal convenience. Those who wish to litigate special needs for a bag at work will be invited by the class action to intervene or opt out, if they prefer.

This lawsuit began in 2013. Most of the plaintiffs' claims were dismissed by Alsup following the Supreme Court's 2014 ruling in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk that security screenings are not compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Supreme Court's unanimous ruling reversed a decision by the Ninth Circuit ruling that the time spent by employees for after-hours screenings to guard against warehouse theft qualifies for overtime pay under the FLSA as amended by the Portal-toPortal Act. Counsel for the employer in that case argued that the screenings were part of egress, akin to punching one's time card or the changing of clothes, and the employees should not be compensated. The attorney of the workers asked the court to consider a two part test to determine whether 1) the screenings are work and 2) whether the screenings are conducted for the employer's benefit. According to his argument, if the answer to both of these questions is "yes," screenings should be defined as work and the employees should be compensated.

(Published by Jurist – July 18, 2015)

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