Former Apple employees say the company requires workers to stand around without pay for up to 30 minutes a day while waiting for managers to search their bags for stolen merchandise.


Former employees at Apple stores in New York and Los Angeles have filed a class action suit, claiming the iPhone maker required them to stand in line for up to 30 minutes every shift and wait for a manager to search their bags.

According to a complaint filed in San Francisco federal court, the searches result in Apple workers being deprived of around $1,500 a year in unpaid wages:

Employees .. are required to wait in line and be searched for .. merchandise taken without permission and/or other contraband. [...] A large number of Specialists and Managers leave for lunch at the same time and/or end their shift at the same time. This creates lengthy lines and backups .

The lawsuit was filed by Amanda Frlekin who worked at Apple’s Century City store in Los Angeles and Dean Pelle who was employed at its Soho location in New York. Both worked as “Specialists” until this spring, and are now seeking to sue on behalf of thousands of Apple workers across the country.

The former employees claim that Apple’s “personal package and bag search” policy results in staff being forced to stand around for 5 to 15 minutes every time they clock out for a meal break or leave work at the end of their shift.

The lawsuit, which seeks an unspecified amount of damages, claims Apple is violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and state laws in New York and California.

Apple, which is facing a new controversy over labor standards in China, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Here’s a copy of the complaint:

Apple Employee Class Action

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  1. They should install a locker room in each store where employees must keep their personal bags, and then have cameras record all ingress and egress. When their accounting reveals theft, they can review their recordings to see if anyone brought products into the locker room.

    Or they can get better at hiring employees who won’t steal from them. And pay them more.

    1. They already do, on top of the bag searches.

  2. This seems to be a uniquely non-Midwestern thing. This does not happen in the middle of the US: we clock out, we go. No bag searches, no theft. Trust as a better path to compliance?

    1. Wigs & figs motherf**r. Madison Wisconsin here. We have searches. Never take a whole half hour though.

    2. MoA here. We have searches. I don’t think there is any theft- but that doesn’t matter to them. It doesn’t take as long, but it’s still insulting and off the clock.

  3. Michael W. Perry Monday, July 29, 2013

    Screening hires carefully would work better. I once worked in security at a major art museum. One of the staff remarked that it was amazing that nothing was ever stolen from the locker room.

    The why was obvious. Given the value of the art, the museum didn’t hire anyone who had the slightest blemish on their record. Character counts.

  4. The real issue is that they aren’t required to bring bags and they do. So they need to get over it

    1. “It’s your own fault for bringing your purse to work with you on the train when you commute into Manhattan”?

      Seriously? That’s what we’ve come to as a society?

      1. Thank You Tess…..You see the Gestapo wants to control all your time……even off the clock!!!! LOL

  5. For most of you not in the know Apple does not allow us to wear Apple shirts outside of store so where does one carry work clothes….especially in NYC?

  6. I worked in a UK store and we had this problem. It would take ages (never 30 minutes) for a manager to come and ‘check you out’. This was certainly frustrating as you’d often miss a train or bus, but I’m not sure it’s worth suing over.

    1. anonymous coward Matt Tuesday, July 30, 2013

      As an individual it’s not, over a year @20 minutes a day you’ve only lost about 85 hours of your time.. At $9 (about £6) an hour that’s $765 (£510) a year in unpaid wages. Over a long enough time period/enough people it turns into a decent chunk of money rather quickly.

  7. As a customer, I have never been asked to open a bag by Apple staff but the employees dont get that luxury?

    Apple, should probably get a little more creative at curbing theft.

    1. Terms of Service Kyle Wednesday, July 31, 2013

      Customers don’t go into non-public areas where things could be shady.

  8. Compared to the conditions in China this does not seem like a bad deal – that said, if they are forcing their employees to stay an extra half hour on premises, they should compensate them for that time.

  9. The issue isn’t that they’re required to open their bags, but that they have clocked out and aren’t able to leave.

  10. yellowjackt65 Tuesday, July 30, 2013

    The employees knew what they were getting into when they were hired. They had to have reviewed and then signed an agreement stating this was policy and that they understood it. If they have a problem with their employer then they should find another job not sue them (unless of course the employer is somehow violating their rights or otherwise violating the law).

    1. Um, that’s what they’re arguing, that Apple is violating the law by making them work (stand around waiting) and not compensating them for it. You may argue that it’s not a violation of the law, but that’s what the court case would be about. Personally, this seems like a dumb lawsuit, but it’s clearly got some folks worked up about it…

      1. Nicholas Lizarraga ColinATL Tuesday, July 30, 2013

        Make me wait around…. PAY ME.. Good for them and they will win.

    2. That’s the point — it violates labor law. If you are required by your employer to be there, federal law says you’re on the clock. They can make you wait for 6 hours if they want, but they have to pay you for those 6 hours.

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