On March 3, 2021, U.S. District Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California said he would partially rule in favor of a class of California retail industry workers against Apple, finding those workers were entitled to be paid for time they spent undergoing bag security checks when exiting Apple’s premises. The case is Amanda Frlekin et al. v. Apple Inc. The Judge left the question of damages for a jury trial and will allow Apple to challenge individual claims on a case-by-case basis.
This is the latest chapter in a saga that began in 2013, when the workers brought a class action suit claiming Apple’s policy of requiring two daily bag checks resulted in 90 minutes of unpaid, off-the-clock work per week. In November 2015, Judge Alsup ruled against the employees and in favor of Apple. The plaintiffs appealed this decision to the Ninth Circuit, and in the absence of appellate decisions discussing the issue, that court asked the California Supreme Court to clarify the state’s law on whether time spent in exit searches was compensable time. Following the Supreme Court’s holding, in September 2020, the Ninth Circuit reversed Judge Alsup’s 2015 ruling and held the employees’ time spent waiting during required bag searches on the employer’s premises was compensable under California law.
Although this case was decided under California wage and hour law, it may have implications for non-California employers that, in these COVID-19 pandemic times, require employees to undergo various types of daily health screening checks, such as temperature checks and filling out health declarations, at the worksite, but prior to being allowed to start work.