Former Apple store workers file lawsuit because of bag searches

Apple is facing a new legal fight, and this time it comes from some of its former employees. Two former Apple Store workers, one in New York and the other in Los Angeles, filed a class action lawsuit last week that covers thousands of Apple employees. The lawsuit claims Apple owes those workers money for standing in line for as long as 30 minutes a day while the store's managers conducted personal bag searches to make sure their workers were not stealing merchandise.

The lawsuit, as reported by GigaOM, claims that each Apple worker has lost up to $1,500 a year in wages while waiting in line for these bag searches to be completed. The lawsuit says Apple's alledged actions are in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, along with other state laws in New York and California. The former workers are seeking an unnamed amount of damages. Apple has yet to respond to the lawsuit.

In August 2012, rumors started up that Apple was quietly laying off some workers at its retail stores and cutting back hours for other employees. A few days later, Apple sent out a statement saying that the company used a new staffing model for its stores that caused the layoffs and cut hours. It added, "Making these changes was a mistake and the changes are being reversed."

Source: GigaOM | Image via Apple

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42 Comments

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At some point you'd think people would get smart and NOT bring a bag into work. If you're on your lunch break and buy something, put it in your car before returning. Else, tie the bag up, ask the manager to secure it until it is time to leave.

No bags, no delays.

I can't speak for other stores, but the store I worked at employed a lot of university students who worked part time and often would go to class straight after or before. Being students, not all of them had a full licence or could drive into the city and afford to pay for all-day parking every work day.

Also when you worked in summer time (especially in Australia with our 43°C / 109°F heat), you would inevitably feel the heat at some point during the day depending on what your role for that particular day was or if you simply ducked out to get lunch. You could've spent hours lugging heavy 27" iMac boxes from the outdoor delivery area and taking them up/down the stairs or be the Front Door Concierge who would be standing at the very front of the store near the heat. You definitely needed to bring a bag with a spare t-shirt or spare change of clothes quite a lot.

While you should be paid for administrative tasks like security procedures, the problem here is you really need to object at the time. Coming back a couple years later looking for money just looks like you were fine with the situation and are just looking to make a buck because a lawyer talked you into it.

Apple can have a very simply policy for its employees. I agree 100% with the poster who said, when it comes to retail theft, employees are the biggest thieves.

Apple can have a policy - No bags at wrk. If you bring a bag to work, you will be search and this is unpaid time. So if you know you're going to wait 30mins per day to bring a bag, then leave it at home.

However, I also understand that likely many of them are college aged and likely are in school and could be coming to school or going to school after work and thus will need a bag. So in this case, when you are ready to get off work you go get your bag 15 mins before hand it to a manager and says here is my bag and when they are done you are done for the day., That way you get searched on their time and you still leave on time. If for some reason you cant do that, then you got find a way or Apple just needs to pay.

Agreed. I've heard enough stories that it isn't even funny. One guy I recall literally just loading up a bunch of iPods, taking them to the break room area, then pocketing them all over his person leaving with $3000+ worth at least once a week...

TechieXP said,

Apple can have a policy - No bags at wrk. If you bring a bag to work, you will be search and this is unpaid time. So if you know you're going to wait 30mins per day to bring a bag, then leave it at home.

So I put the stolen stuff in my pocket then.

MrHumpty said,
Be mad at all the previous apple store kids who stole merchandise.

That has nothing to do with not paying employees for time spent doing a work-required task.

Why do you need a bag at work if you work in retail? I mean do you need to change clothes? How about, you don't take a bag to work so you don't have to be searched and thus have to wait.

I agree with the suit to a point. If you work 5 days a week and you are subject to 30 min searches per day waiting your turn, that's 2.5HRS per week and 10hrs per month and 120 hrs per year. If an Apple employee makes $11 per hour that's 1300 in missed pay.

GIVE ME BACK MY TIME!!!!

TechieXP said,
Why do you need a bag at work if you work in retail? I mean do you need to change clothes? How about, you don't take a bag to work so you don't have to be searched and thus have to wait.

Seriously where do you live, in a hole? What a silly/obtuse comment! There's all sorts of stuff people take to work in their bags such as their lunch, drinks, snacks, toiletries, magazines, gym kit for after work etc etc

TechieXP said,
Why do you need a bag at work if you work in retail? I mean do you need to change clothes? How about, you don't take a bag to work so you don't have to be searched and thus have to wait.

I agree with the suit to a point. If you work 5 days a week and you are subject to 30 min searches per day waiting your turn, that's 2.5HRS per week and 10hrs per month and 120 hrs per year. If an Apple employee makes $11 per hour that's 1300 in missed pay.

GIVE ME BACK MY TIME!!!!

You know why, deep down. If you don't have a bag to place stolen stuff, where else are you going to conceal it? That's right, if everyone stopped taking bags, you'd be given pat downs and back scattered X-rays.

To be fair, when I worked for Nokia we had a metal detector we had to walk though, as well as turn-style gates and we weren't allowed to bring any mobile phone or bags in with us. This was at the backend of the late 90's mind and I'm sure we'd have had pat down and xrays if they could back then... regardless, we turned up for work on time and didn't enter via the turn-style until our start time, any thing they demanded of us was done on work time not our own.
Personally, if I was working for apple and had to wait 15minutes each day... I'd just come in 15 minutes later when the queue was almost gone. There is no way, especially for a money grabbing company like Apple, that I'd be 'on the job' 5 minutes early without getting paid let alone 15+ minutes each day and every-time I needed to eat, etc.
If I was working at an animal shelter or something, i'd probably turn up 15minutes early for free if they asked me to, and be happy to.... people are weird lol.

sagum said,

You know why, deep down. If you don't have a bag to place stolen stuff, where else are you going to conceal it? That's right, if everyone stopped taking bags, you'd be given pat downs and back scattered X-rays.

To be fair, when I worked for Nokia we had a metal detector we had to walk though, as well as turn-style gates and we weren't allowed to bring any mobile phone or bags in with us. This was at the backend of the late 90's mind and I'm sure we'd have had pat down and xrays if they could back then... regardless, we turned up for work on time and didn't enter via the turn-style until our start time, any thing they demanded of us was done on work time not our own.
Personally, if I was working for apple and had to wait 15minutes each day... I'd just come in 15 minutes later when the queue was almost gone. There is no way, especially for a money grabbing company like Apple, that I'd be 'on the job' 5 minutes early without getting paid let alone 15+ minutes each day and every-time I needed to eat, etc.
If I was working at an animal shelter or something, i'd probably turn up 15minutes early for free if they asked me to, and be happy to.... people are weird lol.

Patting down a person doesn't mean you will find something on them. Here is a hint. A Doctor wrote a book on the strange things he has pulled out of people. Example, he pulled a TV remote out of a guys butt. How did it get in their? Well the guy was big. He likely sat on it and the rest is history.

A female with very large chest could tape a phone not in the box underneath and no one would know it was there. Smaller objects like headphones could be wrapped in plastic and placed in other concealed areas. If you want something bad enough you will find a way to get it.

TechieXP said,
Why do you need a bag at work if you work in retail? I mean do you need to change clothes?

You actually do need to change clothes. Employees are not allowed to walk outside of the Apple Store 'off the clock' in their uniform. You have to either change your shirt/top or cover it up with a jacket. Having worked in an Apple Store for about a year, you encounter a lot of stressful situations and long hours, so you definitely do want to change your shirt at the end of a shift anyway.

Skittlebrau said,

You actually do need to change clothes. Employees are not allowed to walk outside of the Apple Store 'off the clock' in their uniform. You have to either change your shirt/top or cover it up with a jacket. Having worked in an Apple Store for about a year, you encounter a lot of stressful situations and long hours, so you definitely do want to change your shirt at the end of a shift anyway.

So a t-shirt with a logo is a uniform?/s Well that seals the deal for me, I don't want to work there.

Nothing unusual about bag searches, however these should take place on the clock and this should be taken in to account by the store management.

It's kind of hard to though, considering the bag checks would be done at the door, then they would have to go back to the kiosk to clock out which would defeat the whole purpose of the bag check at the door.

Astra.Xtreme said,
Having security cameras and properly keeping track of inventory should eliminate the need to search employees.
In the cases I remember it was the people watching the inventory that were stealing. That and warranty returns etc. A culture of theft in those stores was prominent for a while iirc.

Astra.Xtreme said,
Having security cameras and properly keeping track of inventory should eliminate the need to search employees.

underpaid supervisors aren't too concerned with doing anything properly

They are usually hired on hourly basis, if you make them stay longer at work extra 30 mins, that really adds up (commute, another part time work etc). What if it rolls over into overtime hours for the week?

The average salary for retail employees is $11.91 an hour (as of June 2012).

Shadowzz said,
30 minutes a day?
Its quite normal to be at work 15+ minutes early and should take into account being 15+minutes late out of work.

You miss the point.

But you are not required to do anything for the company in those 15 minutes before you clock in if you are an hourly employee.

If you are doing a task mandated by the company, such as "go stand over there and wait for me to search your bag", then you should be on the clock if you are an hourly employee.

Shadowzz said,
30 minutes a day?
Its quite normal to be at work 15+ minutes early and should take into account being 15+minutes late out of work.

It's one thing to CHOOSE to stay an extra fifteen minutes that you're not paid for; it's another entirely to be FORCED to stay an extra fifteen minutes, especially when it is because they assume you're a criminal.

not that its really relevant, but I HATE when my workers show up like right exactly on their start time. Im not asking to be an hour early, but 5 minutes is good.

I am Reid said,
not that its really relevant, but I HATE when my workers show up like right exactly on their start time. Im not asking to be an hour early, but 5 minutes is good.

Why shouldn't they do that? They're not being paid for that time.

its about being prepared, when they do that it shows they have zero contingency, and zero margin for error. If ANYTHING on your daily routine to work goes wrong you will now be late, it could be even the smallest thing. Oh you forgot your keys in your car? Ok, lets spend 2 minutes walking back now so I can be late.

I am Reid said,
its about being prepared, when they do that it shows they have zero contingency, and zero margin for error. If ANYTHING on your daily routine to work goes wrong you will now be late, it could be even the smallest thing. Oh you forgot your keys in your car? Ok, lets spend 2 minutes walking back now so I can be late.

But that's their responsibility; only when they're late or not prepared for their shift is it anyone else's concern. All too often people feel obligated to work without compensation, even if only for a few minutes here and there. That time adds up.

I am Reid said,
its about being prepared, when they do that it shows they have zero contingency, and zero margin for error. If ANYTHING on your daily routine to work goes wrong you will now be late, it could be even the smallest thing. Oh you forgot your keys in your car? Ok, lets spend 2 minutes walking back now so I can be late.

Pay them to show up five minutes early then.

I'd depict you as a suffocated little man with illusions of grandeur, who's HATE is looking for a purpose in life.

But in real life I'm sure you're a capable manager that can handle work issues in a professional manner thus creating a trusting working environment where everyone focuses on tasks and work quality rather then on petty technicalities.

I could be twice wrong though...

On the other hand, Apple is a bully outside and inside and it can only reap what it has saw. Cheap labor has hidden costs, it would seem...

What exactly are they being sued for? There's nothing illegal about bag searches at work. Is it just lost time? Exactly what sort of policy change would they hope to have result from this?

Statistically, employees are by far responsible for the majority of shoplifting across most of retail. In something like the Apple store, there's no way they're going to rely on something as stupid as trust. Watch this end up with Apple banning personal bags for all employees.

Joshie said,
What exactly are they being sued for? There's nothing illegal about bag searches at work. Is it just lost time? Exactly what sort of policy change would they hope to have result from this?

Lost pay. They are forced to go through the bag searches off-the-clock, adding up to a few dozen hours per year in lost overtime pay.

It's the fact that in busy stores they have to wait sometimes 15 minutes before they even get searched. Even during a lunchbreak, often thats half your lunchbreak gone waiting to leave the store to get food. And 15 minutes after work. These searches are only being performed AFTER you clock out, not on company time like they should be.

Considering all the time people sit dicking around while on the clock or when customers just aren't there, I consider it an even trade.

I say this as someone who works retail and has my bag searched just the same. It hardly ever takes THAT long, and even then, we're often sitting around laughing having a good time if ever we need to wait...

dead.cell said,
Considering all the time people sit dicking around while on the clock or when customers just aren't there, I consider it an even trade.

I say this as someone who works retail and has my bag searched just the same. It hardly ever takes THAT long, and even then, we're often sitting around laughing having a good time if ever we need to wait...

Employees are not responsible for failures in the business model.