A settlement reached in an Apple Store bag search dispute has been given provisional approval by a court. The judge said that the agreement was not perfect, but on balance it was good enough to be allowed to proceed.
The case related to the fact that Apple required retail store staff to submit to bag searches after they had clocked out, meaning that the 10-15 minutes they spent waiting inside the store for these searches was unpaid …
The dispute dates all the way back to 2013, when retail staff complained at having to wait an extra 10-15 minutes after their shifts had ended in order to submit to bag searches and checks of their personal devices to protect against employee theft. Even Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed surprise when he learned of this policy.
An initial class action lawsuit failed, as did a second one in California, judges ruling that staff could choose not to bring bags and personal devices to work. However, the California Supreme Court reversed this, and told Apple that it must pay workers for the time lost. One of the arguments the judge made was that Apple’s marketing described iPhones as an integral part of customer’s lives, and therefore tacitly admitted it was unrealistic for staff to leave theirs at home.
Apple discontinued bag checks in 2015, and earlier this year offered to pay workers $30M (around $1,200 each) to settle the case.
Apple bag search settlement can proceed
As with any class action settlement, a court needed to approve the agreement, ensuring that it was fair to both parties. Courthouse News (via Patently Apple) reports that a judge ruled that the settlement was not perfect, but should be allowed.
Senior U.S. District Judge William Alsup granted preliminary approval to a $29.9 million settlement in an eight-page order issued Tuesday night.
The deal aims to compensate 14,683 current and former employees who worked at 52 Apple stores in California from July 2009 to December 2015, when Apple ended its bag-check policy.
The judge rejected some parts of the agreement.
He demanded lawyers make the process for opting out of the settlement easier for class members. He insisted they drop requirements that class members use “magic words” to opt out. He further stated opts-outs should be accepted by electronic submission and not just mail.
Alsup also said that the backpay really ought to accrue employee benefits too, but said that as Apple was making it easy for workers to claim the money, on balance it was a good deal. A final decision will be made on July 7, once the necessary changes have been made.
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