Apple Must Pay Workers Overtime for Security Screenings

A new ruling from the Ninth Circuit entitles Apple employees for compensation under California law for time spent going through security checks.

On Wednesday, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Apple must pay over 12,000 retail employees in California for time spent in mandatory off-the-clock security screenings.

The 12-page, unanimous opinion from a three-judge panel reversed a 2015 decision by a California judge which held that security checks could not be counted as work and could have been avoided by employees choosing not to bring bags.

The Ninth Circuit panel found that time spent on an employer’s premises while compulsory exit searches were conducted was compensable under state labour law, citing California Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order No. 7 and concluding that the “language and history” of components of the definition of “hours worked” described in the Order suggest that Apple employees are entitled to pay for time in which they are subject to company control.

Apple requires all personal bags, packages and Apple brand devices belonging to employees be subjected to searches by a manager or security before the owner is allowed to leave company property for any reason, including breaks and the end of shifts. Employees must also clock out before these searches are conducted.

Time spent waiting for and submitting to searches usually ranges from between five and twenty minutes, though some employees claim to have waited for up to 45 minutes for bag checks on busy days.

McLaughlin & Stern’s Brett R Gallaway, representing the employees bringing the class action suit, said in a statement to Law360 that they were “very pleased with the Ninth Circuit’s decision and believe it correctly resolved a long-standing and disputed issue of liability.”

Prior evaluation of the case has suggested that Apple could have to pay as much as $60 million in compensation if it is required to offer employees back pay for time spent undergoing security checks.

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