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Time Spent By Employees In Exit Searches Is Compensable

Frlekin v. Apple Inc., 2020 WL 727813 (Cal. S. Ct. 2020)

In this opinion, the California Supreme Court answered a question certified to it by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit: “Is time spent on the employer’s premises waiting for, and undergoing, required exit searches of packages, bags, or personal technology devices voluntarily brought to work purely for personal convenience by employees compensable as ‘hours worked’ within the meaning of Wage Order 7?” The California Supreme Court answered the question “Yes.” Putative class member employees estimated the searches took between five and 20 minutes regularly, and up to 45 minutes when stores were busy. The Supreme Court determined that time spent during bag or security checks was time that was subject to the employer’s control because: (1) Apple made employees find and flag down a security guard to conduct the search and confined employees to the premises during the search; and (2) although the bag search was not “required” because employees could choose not to bring a bag, the search was required as a practical matter because employees routinely bring personal belongings to work, including (of course) their iPhones. The Court referenced Apple’s CEO Tim Cook who, in other circumstances, called the iPhone “so integrated and integral to our lives.” The Court also noted that Apple’s employees were subject to discipline if they did not comply with the bag-checking requirement and, therefore, the waiting time is compensable.

© 2020 Proskauer Rose LLP.

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About this Author

Anthony J Oncidi, Employment Attorney, Proskauer Rose Law Firm
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Anthony J. Oncidi heads the Labor & Employment Law Group in the Los Angeles office. Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection....

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