A new Fair Labor Standards Act case alleges that Apple employees are owed overtime for time spent waiting in line at security check points to leave the premises. The lawsuit alleges that Apple has a uniform policy which requires all employees to be subject to a “personal package and bag search.” Failure to abide to the policy is subject to “disciplinary action.” To enforce this policy, the complaint alleges Apple requires each of its hourly employees “to wait in line and be searched for potential or possible store items or merchandise taken without permission and/or other contraband.” Apple allegedly requires this screening any time an employee leaves the premises including when the employee leaves for lunch. The complaint seeks unpaid overtime for the time employees spend waiting in the line because, according to the complaint, this 10-15 minutes of wait time in the security line is done solely for the benefit of Apple and is compensable work.
At issue in this case is the definition of work and whether this postliminary (or after work) activity is for the benefit of the employer or the employee. The FLSA and the Portal-to-Portal Act do not require an employee to paid for “certain travel and walking time and other similar ‘preliminary’ and ‘postliminary’ activities performed ‘prior’ or ‘subsequent’ to the ‘workday’ that are not made compensable by contract, custom, or practice.”29 C.F.R. §785.9. This is why employees are not typically paid for commuting to and from work (there are exceptions). The question for the court will be whether waiting in line for the security check is a “principal activity” which are that are “integral and indispensable” to perform the job or is being performed for the benefit of the employer.
This new FLSA lawsuit highlights a few common scenarios where employees are performing work, but are not being paid for it.
- Employees often perform work activities that primarily benefit their employer during their lunch period. Because meal periods are often not paid this may be time worked that should be paid.
- Employees that are not being paid for going through employer mandated security checks (before, during and after work) may also have a claim for unpaid work.
It is important to talk with a lawyer about whether certain activities should be paid by your employer. To discuss your particular situation contact the employment attorneys at Maduff & Maduff today.