Judge dismisses Apple Store employee 'bag check' class action lawsuit
A California federal judge on Saturday tossed out a class action lawsuit brought against Apple by employees claiming the company's anti-theft measures, specifically "demeaning" bag checks instituted in 2009, resulted in lost wages.
The class, representing some 12,400 employees at Apple's 52 California Apple Stores, argued time spent complying with an "Employee Package and Bag Searches" security policy amounted to compensable overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The rule, put in place to deter theft of costly products, called for managers to search an employee's bags and personal devices (like iPhones) after clocking out at the end of the workday and, in some cases, lunch breaks. Plaintiffs claimed that routine wait times during these security checks deprived them of wages amounting to more than $1,400 per year.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge William Alsop said plaintiffs could have effectively bypassed Apple's searches by not bringing a bag to work. The class pursued compensation based on a scenario in which personal effects were taken to work willfully and for personal convenience, judge Alsop writes. Further, no members asserted special needs scenarios when given the opportunity to do so.
"Thus, our plaintiffs could all freely choose not to bring bags to work, thereby avoiding Apple's restrictions during exit searches. That free choice is fatal to their claims," he said.
Apple workers first sued in 2013, though Judge Alsop dismissed those suits in 2014 citing a Supreme Court decision regarding a similar situation involving Amazon warehouse employees. The judge subsequently allowed a few employees from the original complaint to represent a class under California state law.