The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled Apple must pay more than 12,000 Californian retail worked for the extra time they spent in-store waiting for mandatory bag searches at the end of their shifts.
A unanimous three-judge panel reversed a judge who had tossed the case and ordered him to enter summary judgment for the plaintiffs, after the California Supreme Court in response to certified questions in the case said in February that time spent undergoing security checks is compensable under state law.
The court’s decision dates back to a class-action lawsuit filed against Apple in 2013. Employees alleged that Apple subjected them to mandatory bag searches that were conducted off the clock, meaning they were uncompensated for their time.
Apple actually won the initial trial, when the court ruled that Apple employees chose to bring personal bags to work, but the employees appealed the case and it was sent to a higher court.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday said that the U.S. District Court that handled the original lawsuit had mistaken in its judgment when it sided with Apple over the case.
Apple requires that all bags, packages, and Apple devices that belong to retail employees be checked by a manager or security before being allowed to leave the store for any reason. Employees are required to clock out before the exit search. It has been estimated that employees spent time waiting and undergoing searches ranging from five to 20 minutes. Busy days could see employees waiting as long as 45 minutes to have their bag checked.
Apple could be on the hook for as much as $60 million should it be required to offer employees back compensation for the time spent waiting and undergoing bag checks.