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California judge dismisses class action suit against Apple over retail worker bag searches


Nearly a year ago, a federal judge dismissed a class action lawsuit Apple employees filed against the company for wages they lost while standing in bag-check lines for 10 to 15 minutes before and after their shifts. The case, however, lived on in California. Until today, that is. According to a report out of Bloomberg, a San Francisco judge has today sided with Apple in the case, saying employees could have easily avoided the checks.

The case would have seen Apple compensating as many as 12,400 former and current employees across 52 retail locations a “few dollars a day” for the time spent undergoing bag checks. The employees argued that since the checks were mandatory, they should have been compensated for them. Estimates showed that Apple could have been on the hook for as much as $60 million.

The judge, however, sided with Apple and stated that the employees could have forgone the bag checks by not bringing bags with them in the first place. “It is undisputed that some employees did not bring bags to work and thereby did not have to be searched when they left the store,” U.S. District Judge William Alsup said today in the ruling.

Earlier this year it was revealed that Tim Cook was largely unaware of both the lawsuit and the policy of checking employee bags. When two employees complained directly to Cook about the issue, he forwarded the email to his HR executives, asking “Is this true?”

Following today’s ruling in San Francisco, the employees in the case said they are continuing to explore their options, but for now, it appears Apple will not be forced to compensate employees for the checks.

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  1. Howie Isaacks - 7 years ago

    The judge is right. These employees didn’t have to get searched if they didn’t bring a bag. That being said, having to wait a few minutes isn’t that big of a deal. They may as well also demand that Apple pay them for the time it took to get parked every time they came to work for a shift. And Apple should also pay for the time it took to walk from their car in the parking lot or garage to the store. Also, Apple should compensate the ones who get to work using public transportation. Ridiculous! I had to wait for bag checks when I worked for Apple. I didn’t mind. It was always quick. If Apple had lost this case the lawyers would have pocketed most of the money that Apple paid out.

  2. vkd108 - 7 years ago

    “the employees could have forgone the bag checks by not bringing bags with them in the first place.”

  3. socki (@sockihtx) - 7 years ago


  4. lkrupp215 - 7 years ago

    If you are a union member things can be very different. When I was working for AT&T I would get callouts in the middle of the night about a problem that needed fixing. My overtime pay started from the moment I accepted the callout. It took time to get dressed, to travel to my work location to pick up a company vehicle and load up test equipment. All of that time was on AT&T’s dime and it was time-and-a-half to boot. For every callout I received a minimum of two hours overtime. If it took me only an hour to fix the problem I still got paid for two hours of overtime. Of course this was all negotiated and contractual. While I understand the premise of the lawsuit it all boils down to the contract the employee signed.

    • Howie Isaacks - 7 years ago

      It’s a damn good thing that Apple doesn’t have unionized employees then! I would stop shopping at the Apple stores the moment they started allowing employees to unionize. Unions are bad. They’re evil. They’re leeches.

      • taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

        Unions kept the average income up in the US. Without unions when wouldn’t have the labor laws we have. If unions were strong Americans wouldn’t have one of the latest amount of paid holidays and very low or no maternity leave.

        Unions have problems like the high insurance cost that inflated employment costs and retirement pay. Nobody show;ld get 80% of their former income when they retire. True one payer insurance like most of Europe has one solve the costs of insurance that employers have to pay because of unions and private health care.

        Strong unions help build strong economies and balance wealth.

      • wordpling - 7 years ago

        Good for you Howie. Unions are primarily comprised of leeches that have never worked in the industry they are representing. Unions are far past their usefulness and need to move on to the third world where they belong. At the point when we stop allowing them (unions) to make political contributions, they will go away. To be clear, I don’t like Apple’s policy, but in a great economy, they will have to change that policy in order to attract employees.

      • thejuanald - 7 years ago

        You’re a literal idiot.

      • theintek - 7 years ago

        You’re defending exploitative wallstreet shareholders in a hypothetical situation over the workers of Apple wanting a greater piece of the $200 billion pie they make possible to obtain from customers each year. You sir, are bourgeoisie af.

    • standardpull - 7 years ago

      Translation: if you are an hourly wage earner and if you and your employer agree that the time spent commuting while on-call is paid, you’ll be paid for it.

      For Instance, if you’re a worker and you get called out at 3 AM to fix a problem in the field in east nowhereville, 35 miles away, you’ll get paid for all of your time and not just the 5 minutes it takes for you to enter the building and reset a circuit breaker.

      Seems like any normal employer would agree with such a plan in such a circumstance. It has nothing to do with “union”, and everything about what your employer agrees to.

  5. taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

    I really don’t understand why people think they deserve to get paid for things like driving to work, getting dressed before clocking in, getting undressed out of work clothes when clocking out, personal searches to see if you are stealing.You should account for those things when you get hired for a job and ask for the salty you want.

    It just takes a few seconds to check a bag or pat legs to see if you are stealing anything. The stores have a right to protect their property from being stolen.

    • standardpull - 7 years ago

      When I was younger I worked for a metals company. They had a lot of gold and platinum and other stuff inside the facility. Big money materials.

      We had to clock in and clock out every time we entered and left the facility.

      Before clocking in and after clocking out we would have to go through security. It could take 30+ minutes for everyone to get thru at shift change time. Each way. It was an unpaid hour, daily, for everyone. There were no exceptions, as they were rightfully concerned that someone would stuff something in their mouth or wherever.

      Still, I was a disappointed for not getting paid for that time. They could have hired more security guys or had a speedier process, but they just didn’t care because they weren’t paying us.

      Most dangerous place I ever worked. I quit after a few months. The owner of the company drove a Rolls Royce. Pretty nutty but a reality.

  6. bb1111116 - 7 years ago

    “the employees in the case said they are continuing to explore their options”

    Option #1; don’t bring a bag to work.

  7. Agree the employees are wrong in this case, especially considering the small size and expense of the merchandise Apple stores sell.

  8. Paul Andrew Dixon - 7 years ago

    To say that people didnt have to bring bags is a bit of a cop out – but it is also stupid of the employees looking for a quick hand out… unless they were able to prove how long each check took then they wouldnt have a leg to stand on… if 5 people clocked out at the same time it could take longer if they all had big bags… if only 3 people clocked out and only 1 had a very small bag and the other 2 didnt have a bag, then this would be very quick indeed…
    Plus, the bag checks probably wouldnt have been taken place in ALL stores, only the ones for concern whereby they cant trust their employees due to previous theft…
    I’ve worked at places whereby the manager installed security cameras, and made us write everything down, and instructed supervisors to keep a closer eye on us – all this due to someone stealing products…the thief was then caught and things returned back to normal…

    • theintek - 7 years ago

      It’s not a “quick hand out”. It’s hourly employees being detained at work after clocking out, which should absolutely be illegal. It is the norm for way over half of people to bring a bag with them to work, and while Apple could restrict it, they won’t because employees would take huge issue with it. Apple might see this as an issue for theft, and they’ve got the right to search employees before leaving. But that’s their choice, and their choice that affects how long employees must be at work should have ramifications. If security were under paid time, it’d be under Apple’s best interest to make them as speedy and efficient as possible, too. But nope.

  9. iJonni - 7 years ago

    Am I the only person here that has worked with a female employee before? I’ve worked in Retail before. They all make you check your bags before you leave. However, I’ve also heard from some employees in the extremely large Apple Retail stores (flagships) where you have 15-30 people leaving at the same time. Even if no one had a backpack (which is pretty much unheard of in a large city like NYC), you still have female employees with a purse that will still need to be checked. In these places the line to walk out before getting checked can definitely take anywhere from 5-10 minutes. Is that worth making a blanket policy? No I don’t think so. But the whole idea of, you didn’t have to bring a bag with you is ridiculous. It’s very rare for you to find anyone in NYC walking around without a backpack or briefcase or large purse of some kind. You’re just simply not traveling all the way back home to get that one thing you could’ve carried with you. Most people don’t go directly home after work either… Just saying. Use the wide angle lens.

  10. charismatron - 7 years ago

    The idea of not bringing a bag to work is male-centric, unrealistic for women, and contrary to Apple’s own marketing. Let’s say you own, oh, I don’t know, how about a macbook pro–you’re not gonna pop that in a bag? Of course you are. Or how about an iPad? Yep, that’s going in a bag, too. See, if you carry anything valuable with you use during your commute, you’re using a bag. Now, if you’re female, 9 times out of ten you’re carrying a bag for all sorts of things guys don’t have to be concerned about.

    Naw, this judgement doesn’t fly at all. Heck, Apple sells the very bags they want their clientele (which includes store employees) to buy for their products.
    It’s not like Apple is hurting in the cash department, and it’s not like the bag check isn’t a hold up. So, Apple should never have allowed this to go to court in the first place. They should pay their employees for their time, like any other company.

    In this deal, someone’s losing time (the employees) and someone’s not paying them for it (Apple). Bags are a red herring and totally not part of the equation. Companies pay for employees’ time on site, regarding of their choices to carry something with them or not.


Avatar for Chance Miller Chance Miller

Chance is an editor for the entire 9to5 network and covers the latest Apple news for 9to5Mac.

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