Apple retail employee lawsuit over bag searches receives class-action status

Apple will face a class-action lawsuit from retail workers in its California stores over the company’s employee bag search policy.

On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup granted class-action status to a 2013 lawsuit brought by former Apple store workers Amanda Friekin and Dean Pelle. The ruling applies to 12,400 current and former employees of Apple’s 52 California stores, said court documents.

The lawsuit calls for compensating employees for the time it took to conduct mandatory bag searches, which were done every time workers left a store and meant to ensure staff weren’t stealing merchandise. The searches were held after an employee had clocked out, meaning workers weren’t getting paid for the time they spent waiting for managers or security staff to perform the search.

Employees claim the checks took between five and 20 minutes while managers said the searches took a few seconds, according to court documents.

The policy was supposed to be mandatory, but enforcement wasn’t universal, the documents said. Because the searches wasn’t carried out consistently, Apple argued the case didn’t qualify for class-action status.

In 2012, employees emailed Apple CEO Tim Cook about the bag searches, saying the checks made them feel like criminals and were carried out in front of “gawking customers,” according to earlier court documents. Cook asked Apple’s retail and human resources executives if the employee accounts were accurate, but their replies weren’t included in the documents.

Apple didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.