Apple scored a decisive wage-and-hour victory when a California district court recently tossed a class action in which the plaintiff employees sought compensation for time spent undergoing exit bag searches to ensure they were not stealing Apple products from work. In Amanda Frlekin, et al. v. Apple Inc., the court determined that employee time spent waiting for the exit searches to be completed was not compensable under California law.
The California wage-and-hour statute requires employers to pay for all hours worked. The statute defines hours worked as “the time during which an employee is subject to the control of an employer, and includes all the time the employee is suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to do so.” The court’s decision turned on the critical fact that the employee plaintiffs were not required to bring to work any bag, package, or other item subject to Apple’s bag search policy. Accordingly, participation in the exit bag search was completely optional, not a work requirement, and not compensable.
The Frlekin decision is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 decision addressing a similar issue in Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk. In the Staffing Solutions case, the SCOTUS held that time spent going through mandatory security screening was not compensable under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
The message to employees is clear: while federal and state law require employers to pay for all hours worked, employers are not required to compensate for time the employer spends enforcing its anti-theft policies by checking items the employees choose to bring to work.