A federal judge has ruled that Apple must defend a class-action trial, to begin in January, representing thousands of Apple store workers. The employees claim they had to spend as much as 20 minutes off the clock having their bags searched to combat employee theft—known as “shrinkage”—every time they left the premises.
According to US District Judge William Alsup’s ruling: (PDF)
In stores where searches were performed by the manager on duty, some employees say they had to scour the store to find a manager and wait until that manager finished with other duties, such as assisting a customer. Where searches were performed by a security guard, some employees had to wait until a security guard became available. Some employees sometimes had to wait in line. Employee estimates of the duration of the whole process, including both searches and wait times, range from five minutes to up to twenty minutes per search, with extremes occurring during busy periods such as product launches or holiday seasons. By contrast, managers estimate wait times at only a few seconds.
Thursday’s decision sets the stage for a rare public glimpse into how Apple treats its retail store workers. Store workers in 2012 e-mailed Apple chief Tim Cook saying the search policy treated employees “as criminals.”
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