Tech giant Apple, one of the wealthiest companies on Earth, has been ordered by the California Supreme Court to compensate employees for time lost due to mandatory bag and iPhone searches. Employees were allegedly forced to clock out before being searched to ensure that they had not stolen merchandise or trade secrets.
Engadget reports that the Silicon Valley Masters of the Universe at Apple have been ordered by the California Supreme Court to pay employees for lost time due to mandatory bag and iPhone searches in a case that began over six years ago. Apple store employees were being forced to clock out before going through mandatory bag and iPhone searches to ensure that they had not stolen merchandise or trade secrets.
The workers reportedly felt that they were still under Apple’s control for the five to 20 minute time period it took for them to be searched and as a result, should be compensated for their time. Apple argued that the employees could have chosen not to bring their bags or iPhones to work and avoided the searches entirely.
Apple actually won its case in a district court but the case went to the California Supreme Court on appeal where the judges ruled that the workers were “clearly under Apple’s control while awaiting, and during, the exit searches.” The court dismissed Apple’s argument that bringing a bag to work was an employee convenience and focused on the company’s argument that employees did not need to bring their iPhones to work.
“The irony and inconsistency of Apple’s argument must be noted,” the judges wrote. “Its characterization of the iPhone as unnecessary for its own employees is directly at odds with its description of the iPhone as an ‘integrated and integral’ part of the lives of everyone else.” The court referred to an interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook from 2017 in which he stated that the iPhone was “so so integrated and integral to our lives, you wouldn’t think about leaving home without it.”
The court ruled that Apple must pay lost employee wages retroactively back to July 25 2019. The ruling could apply to over 12,400 workers, according to Bloomberg. The case has now been pushed to the Ninth Circuit appeals court to apply the ruling and decide on compensation, which could run as high as $60 million.