Kingsley & Kingsley Successfully Argues for Employees in Employment Class Action Lawsuit Against Apple

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California’s Supreme Court ruled on Feb. 18 that Apple should pay store employees for time spent doing off-the-clock bag and phone checks by managers and security personnel.

The Los Angeles employment law firm of Kingsley & Kingsley successfully argued on behalf of local nonprofit Bet Tzedek Legal Services that Apple store employees should be paid for time spent doing off-the-clock bag and phone checks because bringing a bag to work is not truly “avoidable” for many low-wage workers and for women carrying purses (Case #S243805). Kingsley & Kingsley argued that an employee’s compensation should not hinge on how easily a particular worker can avoid bringing a bag and that being under Apple’s control during these bag searches is enough by itself to require compensation.

California’s Supreme Court agreed with this argument and ruled that Apple should pay its store employees for time spent during bag and phone checks. The case addressed whether employees should be paid for time they spend undergoing security searches, also known as “bag checks.”

According to court documents, Apple required employees to have their bags and personal technology searched before leaving an Apple store. Employees had to clock out before the search. Therefore, the time spent waiting for and undergoing the search was considered “off the clock.” Apple defended this practice, arguing that the bag-check time doesn’t qualify as “hours worked” under California law because employees can avoid being searched by choosing not to bring bags and personal technology to work.

The court order released Feb. 13 said the decision is retroactive for employees. According to a CBS news report, the decision stems from a 2013 case in which employees alleged Apple should have been paying employees for security searches after they clocked out. After a U.S. district judge dismissed the case in 2015, the employees’ lawyers appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which referred the case to the state Supreme Court to decide whether “bag checks” are compensable.

Ari J. Stiller, senior counsel at Kingsley & Kingsley, wrote the brief pro bono on behalf of Bet Tzedek Legal Services and worked together in preparing the brief with the counsel at Bet Tzedek and community partners at the Warehouse Worker Resource Center.

Judge Cantil-Sakauye wrote in the Court’s unanimous decision that Apple’s argument had holes, such as the employer’s contention that employees do not need to bring bags to work. She wrote that, given the fact Apple requires its employees to wear Apple-branded apparel while working, but directs them to remove or cover up such attire when they are outside the Apple store, it is reasonable to assume that workers might carry a change of clothes in a bag to comply with the company’s mandatory dress code policy.

The court found that Apple’s proposed rule “conditioning compensability on whether an employee can theoretically avoid bringing a bag, purse or iPhone to work does not offer a workable standard, and certainly not an employee-protective one.” Often employees “have little genuine choice as a practical matter” of whether or not to bring a purse or bag to work, the court opined.

About Kingsley & Kingsley Employment Attorneys

For nearly 40 years, the California employment attorneys at Kingsley and Kingsley Lawyers have been fighting for employee rights throughout Southern California. Their team has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients in sexual harassment, wage and hour, wrongful termination, discrimination, and retaliation cases. We are passionate about the pursuit of justice for our clients.

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16133 Ventura Blvd #1200
Encino, CA 91436
(818) 990-8300

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