‘Shrinkage’ problem lands Apple in legal hot water with retail workers

“A federal judge has ruled that Apple must defend a class-action trial, to begin in January, representing thousands of Apple store workers,” David Kravets writes for Ars Technica. “The employees claim they had to spend as much as 20 minutes off the clock having their bags searched to combat employee theft—known as ‘shrinkage’ — every time they left the premises.”

“Thursday’s decision sets the stage for a rare public glimpse into how Apple treats its retail store workers,” Kravets writes. “Store workers in 2012 e-mailed Apple chief Tim Cook saying the search policy treated employees ‘as criminals.'”

“Alsup’s decision applies to about 12,400 workers in California, which has more employee-friendly work regulations than those of the federal government or other states,” Kravets writes. “Alsup allowed the litigation to continue despite the Supreme Court ruling in 2014 that warehouse workers for Amazon.com in Nevada could be forced to spend as much as 25 minutes off the clock to undergo security screenings at the end of their shift.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: And here we thought shrinkage was the result of landing in cold water.

U.S. judge gives go-ahead to class-action lawsuit by Apple retail employees over bag searches – July 16, 2015
Tim Cook received multiple complaints on Apple’s bag check policy – June 11, 2015
Judge dismisses Apple Store employee ‘bag check’ lawsuits following Supreme Court ruling – December 31, 2014
Apple Retail Store employee files class action lawsuit over lost wages due to bag searches – October 12, 2013
Apple retail workers file class action suit claiming lost wages over bag searches – July 29, 2013


      1. You should do some reading on the difference between federal and state law. SCOTUS ruled that federal law didn’t require payment, but a state can have laws that are more generous to the worker. As stated above in the excerpt, California is one such state, so the U.S. Supreme Court decision is irrelevant here, since that was interpreting the federal law.
        A lot of people comment authoritatively on U.S. legal issues without even understanding the federal-state interplay of law in the U.S. Not helpful.

    1. Your viewpoint may make sense, but it’s already been ruled on by the SCOTUS. Without an act of congress to change the matter in favor of employees, it would appear this court case has no legal basis.

  1. If Apple or other employers mandate that employee bags have to be searched before leaving the premises then it is a no brainer that the employer should pay for the time. After all this is still a work activity.

    1. Is travelling To/From work a work activity too?

      How about getting to bed early on a Sunday night in order to get up for work, is that a work activity too?

      How ridiculous can this keep getting before people realize, how good they have it. If not, leave and get another job, start your own business where YOU pay your employees for such things.

      OR SIMPLY leave your belongings at home and don’t carry any bags into work. Common sense.

      1. You sill have to wait in that line. There is simply NO way to avoid the line, whether you have bags or not — you can’t leave the building until you go through the checkpoint (like at an airport).

        I must say, I’m puzzled by the SCOTUS decision on this. Employee’s commute to work is completely beyond the employer and is different for literally every worker; they may live next door to the employer, or in the next town. However, the screening process takes place on employer’s premises, it is mandated by the employer and there is nothing worker can do to mitigate it or reduce it (the way one could move closer to the place of work to reduce the time it takes to commute). Let’s see how this one ends.

        1. Perhaps an idea for those employers is to have separate lines for people with and without bags. Incentive would be to leave your bags at home (or if on premises in employer provided lockers outside the work and screening areas). If you really must bring your bag in to the work area be prepared to stand in the bag check line.

        2. If only we could trust people not to steal… Shrinkage is a serious problem for many companies, and it flows though the manufacturing, shipping, and retail processes to consumers as a cost of doing business.

          Basic security checks are an accepted activity and should not involve compensation. I have to go through a badge inspection every day on my way into work, and that’s fine. It seldom takes more than a minute, even when the cars are backed up. But when that daily security check gets lengthy – for instance, if my car were searched every day as I departed the site, then I would feel differently.

          Perhaps Apple needs to add an employee locker room in which all bags, purses, etc., would have to be stored prior to entering the store? Then a simple security gate/metal detector might suffice as an exit check?

      2. Yes, under some situations travelling to and from work is a work activity and employees are reimbursed. Otherwise, no.

        If an employer detains an employee for a work related search then the employee should be compensated. I am as much pro business as the next guy. I have own my own business(es) and have been employed. I tried treating my employees fairly.

        You’re right, if you don’t like company policy then find a new employer.

      3. According to workmans comp it can be. A friend of mine was hit by another car on his way home from work. He had dropped off the bank bag on his way home. The person who hit him was not responsible for his medical bills, his employer was.

    2. What kind of “bag” does the typical retail employee take to work? Are these backpacks pocketbooks sore Trader Joe shopping bags? Does this policy only affect people who bring bags to work? What percentage of the Apple employees require bag checks? Perhaps Apple sees this is a relatively small problem, especially if it’s a small percentage of employees bringing bags to work. I take it back to the gym, but I don’t recall ever having a job where I needed a bag. It does seem likely that female employees would be inconvenienced more often than male employees, but who knows?

  2. I still think the issue is greatly exaggerated. Apple store employee counts aren’t that high and shift changes probably don’t have that many people leaving at the same time.. just don’t see how it could take 20 minutes, Others who reportedly said they worked for Apple stores said the checks took about 30 seconds… which is what I would expect.

    Yet its being reported like Apple abuses their employee’s.. give me a break, these people should be thankful they have a job these days..

    1. “People should be thankful they have a job these days.”

      Ahhhhh, luxuriate in diminished expectations of the Oblahblah presidency!

      From “a shining city upon a hill” to “be thankful you have a job.”


      What a joke what’s left of the Democrat Party is. Thanks to Oblahblah, the Democrat Party position across state and federal seats is at its lowest since 1928.


          1. Who is ‘You’ you are referring to? I have a feeling that you are the only contributor to this forum who turns every discussion into American political slug fest; the rest seem to be more interested in things Apple…

            1. Walker-Carson/Rubio/Cruz/Fiorina. Dem rats have no viable answer to any of those scenarios. It certainly isn’t the screeching, habitually-lying, evasive, multimillionaire shrew in a pantsuit.

            2. The Billary ticket would be a most depressing state of national affairs (but for Bill just another intern affair). Really? That’s the best Democrats have to offer? Another 8 years of hearing about Clintoni? Yech. No thanks.

    2. “…just don’t see how it could take 20 minutes…”

      Exactly! This is why there is a law suit. These required search times are unreasonably long. Employees are forced to wait for the manager to come search their belongings while the manager is engaged in other activities that can go on for long periods.

      1. So you are saying the employees are making it bad for other employees to leave on time. Well then, what does Apple have to do with this?

        Heres a good one….

        Employee 1: Hey, say you sack me for having a Samsung phone while working at an Apple Store.

        Employee 2: But, thats OK, you CAN have a Samdung phone while working at Apple.

        Employee 1: NO, you don’t understand. Say you DO sack me…..we can split the dough after I win a unfair dismissal case.

        Employee 2: Hmmmm, that’s a good one. But, instead let’s say I have you wait 20 minutes before I let you check out for the day. Then we can get “backpay” AND win a court case too.

        Employee 1: Hmmm…not a bad idea. Ok lets do it!

  3. If you are carrying so much in your backpack that it takes 20 minutes to search, then …

    DON’T bring your pack to work. That is caused by the employee’s decision, not the company.

    1. You misunderstand. It’s not the backpack that takes 20 minutes to search; it is waiting for the Apple manager to perform the search that takes 20 minutes.

  4. Not sure why the Supreme Court ruled against Amazon. Seems to me, if your employer insists you have to wait to leave the building, they should pay you for that time. And that should apply to Amazon, Apple and any other employer.

  5. During college I worked part time for a unionized shipping company. They had a bag/coat check policy as well. The shift manager would put a company pen or box cutter in peoples coats and lunch boxes to blacklist the workers and to prevent them from going full time in the future. I stopped taking a lunch and would leave my coat in the car. It was worst for the women employees, as the searches were done publicly with snide comments on the contents. I graduated and moved on, turning down a full-time position that would have garnered me 8-12 weeks of vacation a year and a respectable retirement package. They were stunned. To this day I refuse to use that company. Yes. lots of companies do this and it may be legal, but that doesn’t make it right.

  6. Taco Bell holds mandatory meetings on the weekends. Hospitals have employees sleep at at hospital if you think you’ll be snowed in at home and stay late for meetings, unpaid. Quit your whining.

  7. My belief is the complaining employees are more indignant at being considered a thief than the minutes taken to conduct the searches, but only “time” as a tangible, measurable value can be used for damages in a civil case. Can’t sue for being indignant. If I am required by my employer to prove I am not a thief every day I come to work, then I think I would expect to be paid for that time as well. But I don’t blame Apple for the policy; it’s the most common one out there.

  8. Its not difficult to distinguish when your REALLY off the Clock.. If you are under the employers control… you are on the clock.. If you can do as you please its your own time.. Employer time should always be paid time.. unless your doing charity work! How would Apple feel if the employee just left 20 minutes early everyday.. would they doc their pay? If so.. then its hypocritical to say they are off the clock when they are still performing a work function for 20 minutes each day. I am a for profit entity. I don’t work for free. Neither should Apples employees.

  9. “[Jobs] continued, “You know, I’ve been thinking about it. How many people are going to be using the Macintosh? A million? No, more than that. In a few years, I bet five million people will be booting up their Macintoshes at least once a day.”

    “Well, let’s say you can shave 10 seconds off of the boot time. Multiply that by five million users and thats 50 million seconds, every single day. Over a year, that’s probably dozens of lifetimes. So if you make it boot ten seconds faster, you’ve saved a dozen lives. That’s really worth it, don’t you think?”

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