Monday, November 29, 2021

Apple offers $30m to retail employees over bag-search policy

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Apple has agreed to pay out $29.9m (roughly £22m) as part of the settlement to a lawsuit brought by California store employees, Bloomberg reports.

If the settlement is approved, the money will be distributed to 14,683 current and former employees of the 52 Apple Stores in California: each will receive $1,286, according to Bloomberg. (Yes, we’ve done the sums too; it doesn’t add up. Presumably the approximately $10m shortfall can be accounted for by lawyers’ fees, expenses and so on.)

The lawsuit alleges that Apple forced store employees to have their bags searched outside of working hours. In some cases, plaintiffs say, this resulted in employees having to wait as long as 45 minutes after their shifts for the searches to be conducted – an additional drain on their time for which they say they received no financial compensation, in violation of California law at the time.

Apple says it carried out the searches to ensure that no products were stolen, and that workers were not hiding electronic devices in their bags. It argued that employees who didn’t like the policy could choose not to bring a bag to work.

The lawsuit was filed as long ago as 2013, and was thrown out in 2015 – a year in which, Apple now says, it discontinued the policy in any case. But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last year ruled that the company still had to pay employees for their lost time.

Apple management has had a slightly fractious relationship with employees lately. Only this year staff have expressed discontent over working conditions and proposed requirements to return to the office, as well as over attempts to prevent discussion of salary, an essential ingredient when removing pay disparities.

This article originally appeared on Macworld Sweden. Translation (using DeepL) and additional reporting by David Price.

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