Apple Store Associates Sue Over Unpaid Time For Searches

Two former Apple Store (NASDAQ:AAPL) employees have filed a class-action lawsuit against the chain, charging that associates are required to spend as much as 30 unpaid minutes every shift waiting for managers to search their bags.

The complaint, filed last week in federal court in San Francisco by employees who worked as "Specialists" at Apple Stores in Los Angeles and New York City, says the searches result in Apple workers being deprived of about $1,500 a year in unpaid wages. That's because of Apple's "personal package and bag search" policy, which forces associates to stand around for 5 to 15 minutes after clocking out for a meal break or at the end of a shift, until a manager can clear them to go.

Associates "are required to wait in line and be searched for ... merchandise taken without permission and/or other contraband," the complaint says. "A large number of Specialists and Managers leave for lunch at the same time and/or end their shift at the same time. This creates lengthy lines and backups." The unpaid time means Apple is violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and state labor laws in New York and California, according to the lawsuit.

While both of the plaintiffs worked in Apple Stores, they say the search policy covers all Apple employees and managers, so potentially any hourly employees could be part of the class.

A few other details of Apple's store policies make this a particularly tricky problems for Apple. Aside from ordinary personal items they might want to carry, Apple Store employees reportedly aren't allowed to wear their Apple shirts outside the store. That effectively mandates carrying a change of clothes.

In addition, though the search policy officially applies to all Apple locations, it's reportedly not tightly enforced in some U.S. stores. That could raise a dual problem. For the plaintiffs, it might mean a significant number of associates who aren't searched won't be available as part of the class. And for Apple, it might indicate the searches—whether they're paid or unpaid—weren't necessary in the first place.

For more:

- See this GigaOM story

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