In a momentous decision, the California Supreme Court ruled that employers must compensate employees for the time spent waiting and undergoing security searches of their belongings and technology devices. The decision signifies a major departure from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Under the federal standard, employers did not have to compensate employees for time spent undergoing mandatory security screenings. Although California employers should know that they must pay employees for time worked, many employers toe the line to avoid fully compensating their workers.
There is a growing number of California workers who have successfully challenged their employers’ unlawful compensation practices. While federal law does not provide as much protection to employees, California state law requires employers to compensate employees when the worker is under the employer’s control. Many California class-action lawsuits stem from employers refusing to compensate workers for time spent undergoing security and bag checks.
Two significant cases arose from employment lawsuits against Apple and Amazon. In the case against Apple, employees claimed that they were required to undergo mandatory security checks before leaving company property for any reason. The time spent waiting took anywhere between 5 to 45 minutes. The employees argued that this time could amount to nearly two hours of unpaid overtime a week and over 100 hours every year. In reviewing the case, the courts analyzed whether the waiting time was compensable under the “control standard.” Inquiries regarding whether the employee is under the employer’s control require the court to look at the totality of the circumstances. Some relevant factors involve whether the employer requires the activity, where the activity occurs, if the activity benefits the employer or employee and whether an employee may be subject to disciplinary measures if they do not comply. In the case against Apple, the court found that the search was mandatory, occurred at the workplace, involved significant control by the employer, and benefits the employer by deterring theft. As such, the California court of appeals held that the technology giant must pay the nearly 12,000 affected employees for the time they spent during these mandatory screenings.
Similarly, Amazon employees brought a lawsuit alleging that they were unpaid for the time they spent waiting at mandatory security screenings at Amazon’s warehouse facilities. The workers alleged that the searches could last over 30 minutes from the time they clocked out. Amazon agreed to settle the case with its employees.
Has Your California Employer Engaged in Wage Theft?
If your employer has engaged in unfair or unlawful employment practices, contact The Nourmand Law Firm. The California employment law attorneys at our firm dedicate their practice to fighting for employee rights. We advocate on behalf of workers to ensure that they are treated fairly under the law. Our law firm handles California employment law claims stemming from wrongful termination, wage and hour disputes, discrimination, and sexual harassment. Damages in California employment lawsuits typically include compensation for lost wages and benefits, loss of reputation, emotional distress, and other fees. Contact our office at 800-700-9243 to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation with an employment lawyer on our team.