California Supreme Court has ruled that Apple owes millions to its Apple Store employees for the time that they spend for bag searches at the end of their shifts. This ruling comes after Apple's earlier victory in the U.S. District Court in California, which was appealed and moved to the Supreme Court.
The court ruled that Apple's policy to not pay employees overtime goes against California's state law. The five to twenty minutes that employees have to spend during the exit searches count towards work time. As per Bloomberg Law, the ruling said:
“The exit searches burden Apple’s employees by preventing them from leaving the premises with their personal belongings until they undergo an exit search—a process that can take five to 20 minutes to complete—and by compelling them to take specific movements and actions during the search,”
Apple claims that its store employees chose to bring their bags and iPhones to work out of choice, and not as per the company's requirements. Therefore, a security check is required. The court disagreed with Apple's claims.
“Under the circumstances of this case and the realities of ordinary, 21st century life, we find far-fetched and untenable Apple’s claim that its bag-search policy can be justified as providing a benefit to its employees,”
As per the wage order, meant to protect California employees, Apple should be compensating employees for exit searches. Ironically, the case also ruled that Apple cannot claim that employees bringing iPhones to work is a "convenience".
“Its characterization of the iPhone as unnecessary for its own employees is directly at odds with its description of the iPhone as an ‘integrated and integral’ part of the lives of everyone else."
As per California law, as long as an employee is controlled by the employer, which is the case exit searches, the employer is liable to compensate the employee for their time.
The case will now go back to the Ninth Circuit, which had earlier moved the Supreme court to rule on the legal case. If the final ruling ends up against Apple, the company will have to pay millions to compensate its store employees. Although it is a drop in the bucket for the biggest tech company in the world, it is also the right thing to do.
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