Apple’s $30M settlement over worker bag checks OK’d by court

After nearly a decade of battling through California courts, a federal judge in California has finally given the green light to Apple’s $30 million settlement in a lawsuit that accused Apple of failing to pay thousands of its store employees for the time it took. through security checks after their official working hours.

Apple agreed to the settlement last year, and U.S. District Judge William Alsup signed it on Monday.

The class action lawsuit involved approximately 14,000 current and former Apple Store employees in California, each of whom will receive a payout of up to $1,200.

The employees who filed the class action in 2013 worked at 52 Apple Stores across California. The lawsuit alleged that bag checks performed by Apple security personnel should take place within their working hours rather than after they were clocked out.

Each search lasted between 5 and 20 minutes, forcing the employees to stay in the store even though they were officially ready for the day. The practice of checking bags ran from 2009 to 2015, when Apple finally closed the proceedings.

The lawsuit alleged that Apple was violating California state law by conducting the checks outside of working hours. But the tech firm insisted it had to check the bags to make sure employees weren’t walking out with stolen devices or other important material, adding that anyone who disagreed with the arrangement should leave their bags at home. .

In a protracted struggle between Apple and the plaintiffs, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed the case in 2015 after ruling that the workers could indeed have avoided the searches by not bringing a bag to work.

But after the plaintiffs withdrew, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided to consult the California Supreme Court to get a clearer picture of whether to search the bag on the clock or in the defendant’s own time. employees should have happened.

The Supreme Court sided with the plaintiffs in 2020, saying Apple Store employees were “clearly” still in the store at Apple’s time awaiting the searches, as well as during the time the searches took place.

“The exit searches burden Apple employees by preventing them from leaving the premises with their personal belongings until they undergo an exit search,” the court said at the time. It added that its decision must be applied retroactively, leaving Apple with the hefty $30 million bill that the judge passed on Monday.

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