U.S. District Judge William Alsup on Wednesday said he is prepared to rule in favor of a class of 12.400 Apple retail employees who allege that the Cupertino firm unjustly forced employees to have their bags checked at the end-of-shift without pay.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup in a hearing on Monday said he plans to grant summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, but Apple will be allowed to dispute individual claims on a case-by-case basis.
The case originated in 2013, The lawsuit stemmed from Apple’s retail store policy requiring employees to have their personal bags and purses inspected by managers before leaving the store for breaks, lunch, or at the end of their shift.
Apple’s “Employee Package and Bag Searches” rule required managers to search an employee’s personal bags and devices after they clocked out at the end of the day, or in some cases when they took a lunch break. Plaintiffs claimed that routine wait times during these security checks deprived them of wages amounting to more than $1,400 per year.
Judge Alsup dismissed the original case in 2014 but allowed a class action suit to move forward under California law. In 2015, Alsup also dismissed that suit, noting in his ruling that workers could have avoided the searches by not bringing bags with them to work. “It is undisputed that some employees did not bring bags to work and thereby did not have to be searched when they left the store,” he said.
Last year, the California Supreme Court ruled employees are in Apple’s control during the mandatory exit searches. State law requires companies to compensate employees for time spent on employee anti-theft programs. A later decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit revived the class action as it stands.
Judge Alsup says he plans to hold a series of mini-trials on damages, where Apple’s lawyers will have the chance to show that individual class members never waited in security checks, or spent a “de minimis” amount of time waiting for which they do not have to be compensated.