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Apple Settles California Wage & Hour Lawsuit

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Apple Inc. and about 230 Apple sales workers reached a deal over their wage-and-hour dispute in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

Santa Clara, CAApple Inc. workers who filed a wage-and-hour dispute in a California court have settled for $500,000. An investigation, which began in early 2022, showed that Apple’s overtime pay rate each month did not include the commissions that Solutions Consultants earned that month and Apple did not pay all Solutions Consultants for travel time between required meetings and their worksites.

According to Bloomberg Law and a memo filed in support of the consultants’ preliminary settlement approval bid, the California labor settlement is closer to 37% of the potential trial recovery if the workers won liquidated damages as well. The deal covers about 230 Apple “solutions consultants”, who sell Apple services and products at retail stores that have a designated Apple-related consumer electronics section. The investigation, which was conducted by Plaintiff’s counsel for the solution consultants, determined that Apple’s monthly overtime pay rate didn't include commissions the consultants earned for that month, nor were the consultants paid for travel time between mandatory work meetings and job sites.

By June 2022 plaintiff Anthony Foreman filed his Collective Action Complaint in the Northern District of California, seeking unpaid wages under the FLSA, on behalf of all similarly situated current and former Apple Solutions Consultants. Foreman worked at a Best Buy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as a liaison between Apple and Best Buy. Two months later, in an amended complaint he added California-based plaintiff Connor Sleighter to the complaint, along with six causes of action brought under California law.  

Travel Time

Regarding travel time claims, Foreman maintained that “where an employee is required to report at a meeting place to receive instructions or to perform other work there, or to pick up and to carry tools, the travel from the designated place to the work place is part of the day's work, and must be counted as hours worked regardless of contract, custom, or practice.”  According to court documents, Apple said that commute from home to work is generally not compensable, particularly true where employees are relieved of duty and have enough time to partake in non-work-related activities. Here, Apple therefore maintained that the gap in time between morning meetings and the start of work at on-site job locations was, as a general rule, sufficiently long that the time was not compensable.

The Deal

According to Law360, in September Apple argued that Sleighter was subject to an agreement requiring him to arbitrate his claims, but Sleighter countered that Apple didn't extend to him the right to opt out of an arbitration and that without his freely given and considered assent, the contract agreement was unenforceable. In November 2022, California federal judge Vince Chhabria sent Sleighter's dispute into arbitration after finding there to be no other named plaintiff from the Golden State alleging California claims, but allowed the FLSA collective action to proceed. 

Judge Chhabria approved a $500,000 collective action settlement after two mediations, that ended with a mediator's proposal that both sides accepted. Unclaimed settlement money from those who chose not to opt in will be returned to the Silicon Valley tech giant according to the deal's terms. The case is 3:22-cv-03902, Foreman v. Apple, Inc.


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