Apple Bag Check Class Action Lawsuit Dismissed

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The class action lawsuit Apple retail employees filed against the company over unpaid time during in-store bag checks has been dismissed. Federal District Court Judge William Alsup ruled the mandatory bag checks, which were used to deter employee theft, were an alternative to prohibiting employees from bringing bags to work.

Court shoots down Apple employee bag check class action lawsuitCourt shoots down Apple employee bag check class action lawsuit

The class action lawsuit claimed checking their personal bags was demeaning and embarrassing, and that they should've been paid for the time managers spent looking through their belongings needed to be compensated instead of off the clock.

Judge Alsup disagreed saying employees weren't required to bring bags to work, and that the searches were a reasonable alternative to a strict no-bag policy. He said in his ruling,

Rather than prohibiting employees from bringing bags and personal Apple devices into the store altogether, Apple took a milder approach to theft prevention and offered its employees the option to bring bags and personal Apple devices into a store subject to the condition that such items must be searched when they leave the store.

The employees represented in the lawsuit were understandably disappointed because they were hoping to get paid for the time they spent waiting while their bags were searched. The New York Times said they're considering their options, including the possibility of an appeal.

The odds aren't, however, in the plaintiff's favor. The US Supreme Court ruled late last year that employee security checks don't have to fall under paid time, which led to Judge Alsup dismissing employee lawsuits demanding back pay. According to the Supreme Court, the security checks aren't integral or indispensable to job activities.

Judge Alsup said no employees in the class action lawsuit demonstrated that they had special needs requiring them to bring bags to work. He added that all employees could've avoided the delays by not brining any bags to their job—a notion that no doubt isn't sitting well with the plaintiffs.

Since the plaintiffs can appeal this case isn't over yet, but considering a similar case has already been reviewed by the Supreme Court, it doesn't look good for Apple's retail workers.

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Based on Judge Alsup's ruling, Apple retail managers can search employee's bags whenever they leave the store and that's going to happen off the clock. Like it or not, that sounds like a pretty familiar policy in the retail world.

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Wheather one agrees withy the ruling or not, there’s another factor.

Elsewhere I’ve read that part of what employees were upset about was that it was talking up to 20 minutes for the searches. THAT part is unreasonable. I suspect the search itself was talking less than a minute but the manager left staff hanging around until he could get to them. That is a problem which needs to be addressed. If any retailler is going to do searches off clock, the very least they can do is make them as expedient and painless as possible. Making sure staff was out the door within five minutes of their clocking out even with the search would have likely avoided this whole kerfuffle.

Eolake Stobblehouse

If an employee is not being paid for the time, then it is essentially a strange authority without authority who comes and searches as your bags, wastes your time, and invade your privacy.


Having worked as a manager in retail I can say that it is required that any search for suspected stolen merchandise by customers is done outside of the doors. It has been the same with just about every employer that I have worked for suspected theft by either customers or employees. The reason should be obvious and it is no invasion of privacy. It is nearly impossible to prove theft before the “goods” have left the building.

It is in the store owners interest not to give individuals every opportunity to pay for merchandise. They don’t want to go through this process at all. In addition, no honest customer or employee should object to retail owners efforts to keep theft (part of a business’ shrinkage) to minimum. Every item that you do pay for has the cost of shrinkage, including theft, built into the price. Which basically means that Apple and other retailers are trying to protect -you- from paying for what thieves steal. These dishonest employee or customer is not taking the retailer’s money. He is taking yours.


The first sentence of the second paragraph should read: “It is in the store owner’s interest to give individuals every opportunity to pay for merchandise.”


Times like this I really wish the TMO site had a +1 or “Like” button for posts.

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