A recently-filed lawsuit accuses the computer company of shortchanging thousands of its Apple Store employees. The lawsuit alleges that hourly Apple Store employees are routinely made to submit to searches of their personal belongings before they exit the store at the end of their shift. This process, which may take up to half a hour, is completely unpaid, according to the lawsuit. The case could gather more momentum if the lawsuit is certified as a class-action. Apple declined to discuss the case with reporters, citing the company’s legal policies.
This case raises a few interesting questions. First, why is Apple conducting these searches in the first place? It seems a rather heavy-handed response to what we assume to be a relatively minor problem. Surely there are less intrusive ways of minimizing employee theft. Second, if searching its employees by hand at the end of every shift is the best way to combat employee theft, why would Apple not compensate its employees for this time? Under NJ wage and hour law, employees must be compensated for “work” — which includes doing whatever the employer requires you to do. If Apple requires its employees to stand on line and have their bags searched instead of doing other duties, then that is “work and it must be paid.