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Apple Store workers should be paid for waiting time before being searched, court rules


California law requires Apple Inc. to pay its employees for being searched before they leave retail stores, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday.

A group of Apple workers have filed a class action lawsuit against the tech giant, accusing they had to undergo research before leaving stores, but were not compensated for the time the research took . The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, where the case is currently pending, asked the California Supreme Court to clarify whether state law requires compensation.

In one decision Written by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the court said that an industrial wage ordinance defines hours worked as “the time during which an employee is under the control of an employer, and includes all the time during which the The employee is suffered or allowed to work, whether or not to do so. “

Apple, which has 52 retail stores in California, requires its employees to submit to exit searches of their bags, parcels, purses, backpacks, briefcases and personal Apple devices, such as iPhones, to deter theft. Failure to comply with the research policy may result in termination.

Employees are expected to find a manager or security guard to conduct the searches after they leave. Employees estimate that the wait and complete the search can take five to 20 minutes, or on busiest days, up to 45 minutes.

Apple argued that workers could avoid such searches by choosing not to bring a personal Apple bag, package or tech device to work.

A Federal District Court judge ruled in favor of Apple, ruling that workers had to prove not only that they were prevented from leaving, but that there was no way to avoid having people searched. personal items.

Apple said it could ban employees from bringing bags or personal Apple devices to its stores, but gave them that advantage. The California Supreme Court has ruled that a ban on all personal items would be “draconian.”

“In the circumstances of this case and in the realities of ordinary 21st century life, we find Apple’s claim to be far-fetched and untenable that its policy of finding bags can be justified as being of benefit to its employees. », Declared the court.

The court noted that workers may need a bag to hold ordinary everyday items, including wallets, keys, cellphones, glasses and water bottles.

“Apple’s proposed rule conditioning compensation on whether an employee can theoretically avoid bringing a bag, purse, or iPhone to work does not offer a viable standard, and certainly not a standard of employee protection, ”Cantil-Sakauye wrote.

The court’s decision is retroactive. The case will now return to the 9th Circuit, where federal judges will apply Thursday’s interpretation of state law.

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