Anyone who has visited an Apple retail store knows how much high value product is on the floor and in inventory. Apple believed the temptation for employees to leave at the end of their shift with an iPhone or two stashed in their purse or backpack was overwhelming, so the company instituted an anti-theft program to try to curb product loss. A class action lawsuit filed last week on behalf of employees at all the Apple stores in California and New York may prove to be as costly as the loss of product, however.
According to the lawsuit, Apple required employees to submit to a search of their belongings when leaving the store for meal breaks and at the end of their shift. Apparently, employees would often have to wait in line 10 to 15 minutes to be searched after they had already clocked out – meaning their time waiting was uncompensated. Plaintiffs contend that waiting in line and being searched was for the benefit of Apple, and therefore should have been compensated (more often than not at overtime rates). Generally speaking, time spent for the benefit of the employer is considered work time under both California and Federal law, and must be compensated accordingly.
This lawsuit follows a string of recent cases in California where employers have been found liable for uncompensated work time. Employers must be careful to keep employees on the clock while they are under the control of the company for any reason. A copy of the complaint filed against Apple can be found here.