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Apple could owe $60 million in damages to employees over bag checks

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What you need to know

  • A San Francisco judge is prepared to rule in favor of Apple employees over unpaid time spent having their bags checked.
  • Judge William Alsup said the class of 12,000 would be able to submit claims for time waiting they weren't compensated for.
  • The bill could run north of $60 million, but Apple will be able to dispute on a case-by-case basis.

A California judge is willing to rule in favor of 12,000 Apple employees who claim they are owed money for unpaid time spent having their bags checked at the end of shifts in retail stores.

From Reuters:

A federal judge in San Francisco on Wednesday said he was prepared to rule in favor of a class of 12,000 Apple Inc retail workers in California who say they should have been paid for time spent in security screenings on liability, but allow the company to dispute individual claims on a case-by-case basis. U.S. District Judge William Alsup during a telephonic hearing said he planned to grant summary judgment to the plaintiffs in the 2013 lawsuit, about a year after the California Supreme Court ruled that state law requires that workers be paid for time spent in security screenings.

The case, which dates back to 2013, had previously been dismissed, before the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the decision in September. It follows an opinion given by the California Supreme Court from February 2020 stating that Apple must pay employees for the time they spend waiting to have their bags checked when they finish their shifts at retail stores. The previous rulings cover current Apple employees and checks going forward, Wednesday's ruling means that employees in the class action will be able to seek payment for historical time spent on checks, some of the claims are reportedly more than a decade old.

The judgment could cost Apple north of $60 million, and class members will be able to submit individual claims for how much time they think they are owed. Despite a request from Apple, they won't be made to submit details of the number of times, dates, and whether checks were made at the end of shifts or work breaks:

Alsup said that requiring that level of detail could be confusing to class members. He said he would allow workers to estimate how much time they spent waiting to be screened, which can be checked against Apple's employment records, since some of the claims are now more than a decade old. "I'm not going to require the claimants to figure out every day they stood in line and how long they stood in line; if they gave dates, they would not be telling the truth," Alsup said. "Apple is just out of luck on that point."

Apple retail employees speaking to iMore have previously confirmed that Apple's bag checking practices are not a company-wide policy, and the measure is usually left to the discretion of individual stores.

Clearly sick to death of the suit, judge Alsup remarked "Someday we'll have this case behind us. Maybe I'll still be alive."

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple.