Apple needs to pay employees for time spent checking their bags

The California Supreme Court has ruled that Apple must pay retail store staff for the time they spend waiting for their personal bags to be checked at the end of their shifts. Pending the outcome of resulting class action cases, Apple would have to pay millions of dollars to their roughly 12,000 retail employees, who fall under the mandatory search policy.

Apple Store bag check - image: Apple Store Fifth Avenue
Apple Fifth Avenue
Financial Express:

The employees are required to clock out before their exit search which may take some time. Those who refused to go for search even have to face disciplinary action or even termination from the company… In its order, the state’s high court had rejected Apple’s stand that employees could avoid searches by not bringing any iPhone or bag to office work.

This case is the third the state high court heard in relation to minimum wages and time. A couple of years back the court had asked Starbucks to pay for off-the-clock work, like going through a checklist in order to close the store — that can take some time minutes more than somebody’s shift.

MacDailyNews Take: Is this some leftover policy from John Browett’s short shift as head of Apple Retail? We ask because this seems like a policy some discounter would implement, not the world’s most valuable company which literally has so much money coming in that they don’t know what to do with it.

If you are requiring employees to do something, regardless of what it is; mundane or revolutionary, then you should pay them for their time. This seems like basic logic.

Paying employees for time spent in bag checks seems like something Apple should have realized and done from the outset. Not only is it wrongheaded PR (the world’s richest company asking retail employees to donate their time daily for bag checks, seriously?), it’s just immoral, not to mention illogical. It’s a cheapskate mentality in the most expensive and profitable retail spaces in existence. Yet, Apple is fighting it in court? Come on!

Let’s get real, Apple brass: Stop being cheap, end the appeals, settle, apologize, and pay up. Then figure out how to smooth the current bag check process so it costs your employees less time and, therefore, the company less money. You know: innovate.

Again, we understand the need for bag checks. Apple should keep requiring bag checks for retail employees. The company simply needs to fairly pay their employees for the time spent during the mandatory activity.


  1. Rare that I disagree with MDN… but I do in this case.
    This lawsuit was petty on behalf of employees in CA who are ungrateful to have a job. What’s next, paying employees while they put on the required t-shirt of the day? Maybe they can ask for gas money for the drive?
    My point is… some things we do because they’re required to actually work. If you want the job, you do those required things. I guess I’m old school.

        1. I need to be paid to check my head. And yes, it’s the real one – I call smart people salamanders because that’s the best I’ve got. I also want to father a love child with CitizenX.

    1. No, you’re not ‘old school’, because these sorts of things used to be routinely paid for by old fashioned corporations.

      YMMV but my employer’s policies are that they pay for time lost going through facility security, the time spent prepping to enter a clean room, safety gear, decontamination, etc.

      They don’t pay for me getting dressed in my normal street clothing before showing to to work, nor the time to commute to from home to the first security checkpoint. Granted, we normally arrive at the checkpoint before actual starting time so as to be at our workstation at the appointed time, but on those instances where security gets backed up, Managers have been directed that they’re not allowed to take it out on employees – – what happens is that the Chief of Security gets to step up to explain why his team took much longer than the normally acceptable amount of time.

    2. Well as a former employee that spent sometimes hours a week waiting for a manager to “inspect” my lunch bag which I could turn inside out in 3 seconds as proof, I feel I have the right to speak to this. I waited as it was a friable offense. The time clock was in the far back of the store and managers required us to show our bag and then leave so we were visible the whole time. I could literally pocket my bag but knew I could be terminated for such activities. Managers were sometimes involved in complicated customer interactions and could not break away.

    3. The US are a capitalist country: an employee sells her/his time as a good to an employer, which obviously has to be paid.
      Maybe in the Soviet Union the State-run companies could steal time(money) from the employees, but certainly not in a free economy.
      Should the employees be allowed to take an iPhone every week from the Apple Store, “just because”? I don’t think so.

    1. Didn’t your mother ever tell you, “Just because Timmy acts like a bully, it doesn’t make it right for you to act like a bully.” When someone is on their employer’s premises at their employer’s direction to perform a task that benefits the employer but not the employee, that time should be compensated. An employer who refuses to fairly compensate their employees is a bully. Just because somebody else does it doesn’t make it right for Apple.

    2. But the store where I worked, selling computers and other electronics, never took more than a minute or two to do your bag check. I carried a small lunch-sized cooler every day. And pretty much every day as I left, I would have it looked through. Not once did I think it was an imposition because it was done quickly and didn’t hold me up for more than a minute or so.

    3. It’s obviously a question of degree. If the time spent passing security is a couple of moments, then there’s nothing to get worked up about. If it’s 30+ minutes, then it’s a significant imposition. As others have said, no the company need not pay you for your commute to work, but this is a policy that prevents you from LEAVING after you have stopped being paid.

      If smaller companies are routinely doing this and have not been sued because the lawyers weren’t interested, then thank goodness Apple is a big enough target to be worth setting a precedent. When Apple loses or complies, then hopefully other companies will follow.

  2. If you are spending time on the job doing something the employer requires of you then you are supposed to get paid for the time spent doing it. Come on Apple that’s embarrassing.

  3. Don’t be cheap with retail employees. They’re your front line. You’re providing FREE lunch to your employees who work in your office, execs time on golf courses shmoozing with clients. Im sure salaried employees regularly leave a few minutes early to go pick up the kids from school or take a longer lunch.

    hourly employees should be paid fairly and not just the minimum the law requires. DO what’s right.

  4. I have to say I’m surprised Apple took this to court. Just looks (and is) bad. Didn’t Amazon get in trouble for something like this a few years back? IIRC, they actually won their case, which I thought was pretty crappy.

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