Stop and frisk, Apple style

From the LA Times: “Apple store workers should be paid for time waiting to be searched, court rules

Employees are supposed to find a manager or security officer to do the searches after they clock out. Employees estimate that waiting for and undergoing the searches can take five to 20 minutes, or, on busiest days, up to 45 minutes.

Apple argued that workers could avoid such searches by choosing not to bring a bag, package, or personal Apple technology device to work…

In a decision written by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the court said an industrial wage order defines hours worked as “the time during which an employee is subject to the control of an employer, and includes all the time the employee is suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to do so.”

My take: Retail is a tough business. Industry wide, roughly one third of “inventory shrinkage” in internal. I assume there was more to Apple’s defense than it’s the employee’s fault for bringing a bag or an iPhone to work. But in my mind there’s no excuse for a 45 minute wait—not at the doctor’s office, not at the back door of Apple store.


  1. David Emery said:
    I think it’s a good decision. If Apple wants to institute these searches (and I can understand why), then it needs to pay its employees for the time they have to spend to accomplish them.

    February 14, 2020
  2. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    The decision does make good common sense.

    It’s a classic “trust but verify” situation — just as they continually “trust and verify” an employee is even doing their job. All employers do to some degree.

    If Apple chooses to assume any employee MIGHT be stealing and they want to confirm it to be true or false by requiring time from the employee — then they should pay for the time to complete that verification to their satisfaction.

    February 14, 2020
  3. Jerry Doyle said:
    As a former individual involved in Labor-management relations I roll my eyes at how some of these worker issues rise to the level of news media coverage and, to court cases! This is one such issue.

    Inventory shrinkage definitely is a problem throughout all industries, but common sense should have alerted Apple management that employees are on a schedule while at work and while not at work.

    Employees have kids to pick-up after work, or latch-key school children waiting alone at home for the parent to arrive, or elder care issues, or needed errands to run immediately after work, or appointments to keep, on and on. Not knowing definitively after completing a successful work shift how soon one will be able to exit the building means employee stress, worker anxiety and colleague frustration.

    Sometimes a Labor official wants to take a senior executive aside or the CEO and say, “… how would you feel before you leave the office if you had to stand around waiting until we find a security person to check you out the building?” Not a single senior executive or CEO would be pleased tapping their feet for 5, 10, 15, and especially up to 45 minutes.

    Perhaps if management would institute a policy that the worker punches the clock on the way out the door after being search then management would need to act efficiently, expeditiously and with alacrity to keep labor costs down. I suspect then this issue never would have surfaced because the incentive for management to minimize labor costs would be in place and the employee knowing that they still are being paid for their time on the job is instituted fully.

    Apple applies a premium on promoting publicly its employees ebullient spirits, but then behind the scene we read this media story of Apple employees being herded like cattle into a stockyard pen forced into a holding pattern upwards to 45 minutes before the human pen gate opens. Come on Human Resources? What are you folk thinking? Or, are you thinking? Use common sense on how YOU want to be treated.

    We want our employees to leave the building feeling that they are being treated in a respectful, fair and equitable manner.

    February 14, 2020
    • David Emery said:
      The two parts of Corporate America that I came to hate are Corporate HR and Corporate IT. HR was usually staffed by incompetents, while IT was staffed by people who lacked accountability.

      February 14, 2020
  4. Gregg Thurman said:
    Here come the class action suits.

    If I were Apple I’d immediately announce paid time off according to a length of time employed formula for all retail employees (to settle past grievances), and conduct the searches BEFORE the employee clocks out.

    February 14, 2020
  5. Fred Stein said:

    Hopefully this legal precedent will alert thousands of other employers to fairly compensate their millions of employees.

    February 14, 2020

Leave a Reply