Lead plaintiff Amanda Frlekin sued Apple Inc., the Cupertino-based technology giant in 2013, claiming it illegally withheld pay from workers who had to spend five to 20 minutes on average waiting for managers and security officers to search their bags and verify their Apple devices before they could leave for lunch breaks or at the end of shifts.
In 2015, Senior U.S. District Judge William Alsup granted summary judgment in favor of Apple, finding that because store employees chose to bring bags and Apple devices to work, they could not prove the bag checks were mandatory. He found Apple could have imposed an even stricter policy by banning workers from bringing bags or personal Apple devices to stores. This ruling gave rise to the decision by the California Supreme Court, and subsequent reversal of the summary judgment by the 9th Circuit in September 2020.
In a unanimous February 13, 2020 decision, the California Supreme Court in the case of Frlekin v. Apple Inc., held that the time spent by employees waiting for and undergoing security checks of bags and other personal items is compensable time under California law, even when the policy only applies to employees who choose to bring personal items to work.
Over the last several years, the question of whether the time employees spent having their bags checked at work is compensable has arisen in several different contexts, in California and across the country:
In late 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk (135 S. Ct. 513, 574 US 27, 190 L. Ed. 2d 410) held that security checks are not compensable time under federal law because they are not part of the actual workday.
In California, employees in most industries must be paid for the time they are subject to the control of their employer, not just the time spent doing work. This is so because, since 1947, California has specifically departed from federal law and has provided greater protection to working employees.
This month, Apple has inched closer to ending more than eight years of litigation over claims it owes thousands of its retail employees in California for time spent undergoing security checks of their personal belongings.
Judgle Alsup granted preliminary approval to a $29.9 million settlement in an eight-page order issued Tuesday night.
Defendant Apple, Inc. employed settlement class members in its 52 retail stores in California. The total settlement is settlement worth $29.9 million A net of $18,895,333 will go to the class of 14,683 workers. Separately, Apple will pay $757,000 to cover the employer’s share of the payroll taxes owed on the wage portion of the settlement fund. Attorney fees and other costs will be separately decided.
Class attorney Lee Shalov of Mclaughlin and Stern in New York called it “the largest reported settlement in a security-search case in California.”