Court rules Apple owes store staffers millions for off-the-clock bag checks

The California Supreme Court today ruled that the Apple Store violated California law when it failed to pay employees for time they spend waiting for mandatory bag checks at the end of their shifts.

Joyce E. Cutler for Bloomberg Law:

Apple Store bag check - image: Apple Store Fifth Avenue
Apple Fifth Avenue
Apple won at the trial level in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which said employees of the Cupertino, Calif., tech company chose to bring bags to work and thus subject themselves to the company’s search policy. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit turned to the state court to interpret California law.

Compensation turns on the issue of whether the employee is controlled by the employer. Apple workers “are clearly under Apple’s control while awaiting, and during, the exit searches,” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said…

Apple’s case will now return to the Ninth Circuit, which earlier held that Nike Retail Services Inc. and Converse Inc. must face California workers’ class claims that they should be paid for time spent in post-shift bag checks.

The California court also slapped Apple for its arguments that employees bringing their iPhones to work was a convenience. “Its characterization of the iPhone as unnecessary for its own employees is directly at odds with its description of the iPhone as an ‘integrated and integral’ part of the lives of everyone else,” the court said, citing statements by company CEO Tim Cook.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote back in June 2015, “Unfortunately, policies like this do not arise out of the blue. There is a reason why bag checks have to be conducted. Ah, if only we lived in a world where everyone was taught, and learned, right from wrong and lived moral lives. That said, there must be a way to conduct these bag checks out of view of customers and as quickly as possible. Apple would do well to remember that the vast majority of these bag checks are being conducted on loyal employees who are not thieves.”

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. One thing that I am thankful for being in CALI is that employers have fewer chances to hose workers. I put in over 900 hours over the course of 13 years and did it becuse that’s what the job took. When cornered by a group (not mine) and pressed, the company tried to offer us all a paltry amount of money to “sign here”. I amongst other refused, based on how it started to feel and being used. So, 18 months later, I got a nice healthy check in a class action suit. Had they not offended me (us) for the years of busting hump, I’d have walked, but they didn’t so I got a tax free check as did the rest who didn’t “sign” the offer…

    1. That’s not a bad idea, Rob. Japanese companies typically pay for your transit to work.

      OK Boomer. Boomers are paid for the time they spend in traffic. It was built into their higher proportional incomes and their cushy 9–5 jobs. Millennials, on the other hand, work longer, have less reliable jobs, often have two jobs they have to commute do, or are on contract without benefits.

      So perhaps, companies should give a stipend to cover time in transit, it would certainly mean it’s in a company’s best interests to book employees for longer than 4 hour shifts.

    2. Rob, when they are in traffic they aren’t on their employer’s premises and their time is not under their employer’s control. That looks a lot like on-duty time to me, which employees are entitled to be paid for. This case falls under California state law, which is stricter than the Federal overtime laws.

    3. Bad comparison. Apple likely has little control over traffic. The employee can leave earlier to beat the traffic. Apple has full control over the baggage checks. Where as traffic is a fact of life apple could just stop doing the checks. Since apple seems it valuable to them to conduct checks and have made the checks a work requirement l Then as part of the job apple should pay for the time it takes to check bags.

    4. Ok, so I worked under Ron Johnson and Browett and Angela. I can attest to the fact that I spent hours a week sometimes waiting for a manager to take a 3 second look at my empty lunch bag so I could go home. Leaving was a fireable offense even though I could have put the bag into a pocket and they did not check pockets. You try waiting an hour off the clock to leave and then pay overages to daycare for late pickup.

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