Employees of Apple’s retail stores are suing the company over unpaid overtime and for being searched each time they leave the store to make sure they’re not stealing merchandise.
The Associated Press reported today that a suit has been filed against the Silicon Valley-based tech giant in U.S. District Court in San Francisco and is one of several legal headaches that have affected Apple in recent months. Earlier this month, a federal judge in New York ruled that Apple had conspired to raise prices on ebooks to thwart competition, particularly Amazon’s Kindle tablet, through its Apple online bookstore.
Apple has also faced continuing pressure to change labor practices at contract manufacturers in Asia that assemble its iconic iPhones and iPads. It enjoyed one important victory, though, here in San Jose when a federal court jury ruled in August of 2012 that rival Samsung had infringed on Apple patents in the design of some of Samsung’s gadgets. That suit is close to being settled.
In this latest lawsuit, Apple retail employees Amanda Frlekin and Dean Pelle, the plaintiffs, claim that they were among many Apple store employees who were forced to wait in line, unpaid, for their and their co-workers’ bags to be searched for possible stolen merchandise before they could leave the store.
“If the employees had been properly paid while waiting to be searched, they would have earned an additional $1,400 to $1,500 annually, the lawsuit estimates,” the AP reported.
The story also says lawyers for the plaintiffs hope to gain class action status for the case, in which case up to 42,000 Apple retail employees could be added to the class. The suit seeks to represent employees who’ve worked in Apple’s U.S. stores for the past three years, and, for employees at Apple stores in California and New York, to include workers employed even longer, citing specific language in those states’ labor laws.
I know that shrinkage is a big problem in retail stores, generally, and there may be other retailers who search employees’ bags for possibly stolen goods. Let’s see how this case proceeds against Apple. But it strikes me that searching their bags, especially after their employees have clocked out, is a form of employee intimidation by Apple that should be restricted.
Apple declined to comment to the AP about the lawsuit and has yet to respond to a request for comment from me.
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