The California Supreme Court recently came to a unanimous decision that an employer must compensate his/her employees for the time spent on the employer’s premises waiting for, and undergoing, the obligated exit searches of packages, bags, or personal technology devices. 

The Court made it clear that this time is compensable since the employees are under the employer’s governance, and the searches done are for the employer’s benefit. The Court came to this conclusion putting into place the California law, and the same result would not inevitably be reached under the FLSA.

As an employee, as per this decision, you need to review any policies or practices that require you to execute any ‘off-the-clock’ or otherwise unrecompensed tasks. The vital elements acknowledged by the Court if the activities are remunerative are the setting of the job, the degree of the employer’s governance, whether the task at hand mainly benefits the employee or proprietor, and whether the activity is enforced via disciplinary measures.

It was the Court’s opinion in the Frlekin v. Apple, Inc., Case No. S243805, where Plaintiffs Amanda Frlekin, Taylor Kalin, Aaron Gregoroff, Seth Dowling, and Debra Speicher, who was then suing on their behalf and behalf of a class of similarly placed Apple retail store personnel, filed a complaint against Apple in federal district court. This complaint alleged that, among other things, that Apple did not compensate the plaintiffs for the time spent waiting for and undergoing the required Apple’s exit searches in violation of California law.

The defendant, Apple Inc, one of the most prominent technology providers, necessitates its retail store employees to undergo exit searches according to its “Employee Package and Bag policy (hereafter the bag-search policy), which inflicts mandatory searches of employees· bags, packages, purses, backpacks, briefcases, and personal Apple technology devices, such as iPhones. The bag-search policy states that a manager or security must check the employees’ personal packages and bags before leaving the store.

So, Apple employees, according to this policy, must clock out before submitting to this exit search. Keeping in mind the number of employees each store has, the estimated amount of time that is spent awaiting and undergoing an exit search can range from about five to twenty minutes, depending on the manager’s and security guard’s availability. On a busy day, as reported by Apple employees, the average waiting time can be up to 45 minutes. As a company rule, employees are not compensated for this time, thus prompting the lawsuit.

After cross-motions for summary judgment at the Federal Court were done, Apple’s motion was granted, and the plaintiff’s motion was denied. The Court then ruled that the time spent by class members waiting for and undergoing these required exit searches is not compensable as “hours worked under California law.

With that, the plaintiffs appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which asked the Supreme Court to discuss the state law issue (Frlekin v. Apple, Inc. (9th Cor. 2017) 870 F.3d 867, 869 (Frlekin). After several discussions and with the guidance of the Wage Order 7, which requires proprietors to recompense their employees a minimum wage for all “hours worked, 

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff Now all employers are required to pay their employees for the employer for the time spent on the employer’s worksite waiting for and undergoing, the obligated exit searches.

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