California Ruling: Employers Required to Pay Workers if They Are Searched Before Leaving Jobsite

In a landmark ruling by the California Supreme Court, a new precedent has been set for employment law regarding the required searches of employees. The class-action lawsuit, which had been filed by a group of Apple employees, asserted that required searches of employee belongings like phones, handbags, and pockets should also bring with them additional wages for the time spent on the premises. 

We’ve carved out the details below.

Apple Prioritizes Security

The tech industry is characterized by high-value items that are often easily concealable, such as phones, wireless headphones, and other compact technology items. As a result, Apple requires its employees to be thoroughly searched before being allowed to leave the store for the day. 

These searches took place while employees were clocked out, meaning that time spent being searched was not considered as part of their hourly wages (or was “off the clock”). According to the employees in the suit, Apple’s procedure required them to look for a manager or security worker to perform the search, which could range from as little as five minutes to as long as forty-five minutes. This procedure robbed the employees of personal time and they were not paid for it. 

Court Rulings

Initially, Apple had won the case in Federal district court, leaning on the argument that allowing employees to bring personal items such as backpacks rather than banning them completely was a voluntary choice and was, in fact, a benefit to the workers. Apple’s lawyers asserted that the searches are part of life when working for a tech company and that workers could avoid searches by choosing to keep their bags and personal iPhones at home instead of bringing them into work. 

The California Supreme Court disagreed with Apple’s position, stating that it was “draconian” to expect workers not to bring their phones or backpacks to work. The Court awarded a victory to the plaintiffs, ruling that any employee who is required to submit to a search at work must also be paid for his or her time. This means that workers in Apple’s 52 California locations must now be paid moving forward.  

This is a critical ruling in favor of employees in all industries because it means that any California employee who is subjected to a security check must be paid for that time.  You cannot have clocked out before going through the check or clocked in upon arrival after going through a check. This decision is also “retroactive,” meaning that if you are a California employee who was ever been subjected to a bag check in the last four years without being paid for it, you are now owed back wages for that time, plus penalties.  Contact us for a free evaluation of how much you are owed for security checks and how you can go about collecting that money. 

Fight For Your Rights With Carter Law

If you’re ready to fight for your rights as an employee, we would love to help. Consult with our team to learn more about your potential case, and what your options are when it comes to finding a solution for issues at your workplace. You deserve a work environment that treats you fairly. We firmly stand by our clients and work to get them every dollar they deserve.