The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday said Apple must pay over 12,000 retail workers in California for the time spent waiting for compulsory bag searches at the end of their shifts (via Reuters).
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 unanimous court decision, which dates back to a class action lawsuit filed against Apple in 2013, lines up with a previous California Supreme Court ruling that determined that staff time spent in security screenings was compensable.
Employees alleged that Apple subjected them to mandatory bag checks that were conducted off the clock, leaving them uncompensated for their time. At the trial level, Apple actually won the lawsuit when the court ruled that Apple employees chose to bring personal bags to work and dismissed the case, but the decision was appealed and brought to a higher court.
The Ninth Circuit panel said on Wednesday that the U.S. District Court that handled the original lawsuit had mistaken in its judgement when it sided with Apple over the case.
Apple requires all personal packages, bags, and Apple devices that belong to retail employees to be checked by a manager or security before an employee is allowed to leave the store for any reason, including breaks, lunch, and the end of shifts.
Employees are also required to clock out before submitting to an exit search, and have estimated that the time spent waiting and undergoing searches ranges from five to 20 minutes. On busy days, some employees have waited for up to 45 minutes waiting for a bag check.
Prior evaluation of the case, which reached class action lawsuit status in 2015, suggested that Apple could have to pay as much as $60 million should it be required to offer employees back compensation for the time spent undergoing bag checks.