Apple Can't Shake Claims in Employee Class Actions
(CN) - Apple must still face claims that it violated labor laws by not paying its employees for time spent waiting in line and undergoing security bag searches, after a federal judge refused to throw out two class actions.
The lawsuits claim that Apple requires its hourly employees to undergo off-the-clock security bag searches and clearance checks when they leave for meal breaks and after they have clocked out at the end of their shifts.
Because employees usually end their shifts and take breaks around the same time, they often end up waiting between 10 to 15 minutes off-the-clock to get through the security screenings, according to the suits.
Apple moved for summary judgment, arguing that only employees who have bags or Apple devices are required to undergo the screenings, and bringing such items to work is voluntary.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup found the record to be ambiguous about whether the screenings were mandatory, and ruled that too many individualized factual questions regarding Apple's screening practices existed to be able to grant the company summary judgment.
There appears to be "a range of policies and practices at various stores, rather than a crisp scenario," he wrote.
Among other things, Alsup noted that it is unclear how Apple's supervisors interpret the word, "bag," whether Apple employees must wait in line in order to determine whether they will be subject to a security screening or waved through, and to what extent employees are required to stand in line because they used a bag to bring "necessities of life" into the workplace.
"Apple employees may need to bring a bag to work for reasons they cannot control, such as the need for medication, feminine hygiene products, or disability accommodations," Alsup wrote.
The lawsuits must be stayed, however, pending the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk, a similar case involving hourly paid employees who must undergo mandatory security screenings.Alsup anticipates that the Supreme Court will make its decision in that case in the spring of 2015. Both sides in the current case are expected to continue with discovery as to the California state-law claims, however, as those claims might survive even if the Supreme Court's ruling moots the other claims.