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Apple Faces California Overtime Lawsuit

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San Francisco, CAApple Inc. may be known for its high-tech gadgets and its Apple stores, but it may soon be known for a lawsuit alleging violations of overtime laws. The lawsuit, filed by employees in California and New York, alleges employees were not properly given overtime pay for all the duties they performed as part of their job.

The lawsuit, as reported by ABC News (7/31/13), alleges Apple employees had to wait as much as 10 to 15 minutes to go through a security bag search, designed to prevent theft from the Apple stores. These searches were allegedly conducted after employees had clocked out of their shift and during their unpaid meal breaks. Plaintiff Amanda Frlekin reportedly claimed the unpaid time spent waiting for a bag search could total between 50 minutes and 1.5 hours a week, or up to $1,500 in wages over a year.

Meanwhile, a second plaintiff, Dean Pelle, claims he is owed approximately $1,400 in wages for time spent waiting for off-the-clock bag checks. According to the lawsuit, failure to pay employees for this time is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires employers to pay time-and-a-half for all work that exceeds 40 hours in a week.

The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, further claims violations of the California Labor Code for failure to properly pay minimum wage and overtime. Neither of the plaintiffs is still employed at Apple.

Mandatory bag searches are designed to prevent theft by employees at stores. Many retail companies require bag searches. In the case of Apple, the searches were reportedly required every time a sales rep left the store, regardless of whether it was for a meal break or at the end of a shift. Furthermore, employees who refused to submit to the bag check could face disciplinary action, including termination.

According to court documents (found online at gigaom.com), “Apple has engaged and continues to engage in illegal and improper wage practices that have deprived Apple Hourly Employees throughout the United States of millions of dollars in wages and overtime compensation. These practices include requiring Apple Hourly Employees to wait in line and undergo two off-the-clock security bag searches and clearance checks when they leave for their meal breaks and after they have clocked out at the end of their shifts.”

The plaintiffs allege that Apple benefited from the uncompensated time employees spent waiting for bag checks and further claim that Apple’s conduct was “willful and in bad faith.”

The lawsuit is Amanda Frlekin and Dean Pelle et al v. Apple Inc, 3:13-cv-03451-EDL. Plaintiffs seek unpaid wages, overtime compensation, penalties and damages for similarly situated Apple employees, including non-exempt Specialists and Managers.

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