back to article Apple kept us waiting while it searched our packages every day, claim shop staff

Two Apple store staffers, who say they are fed up with out-of-hours bag searches, are suing the iPhone giant for compensation. The pair's class-action lawsuit claims the Cupertino company is bent on preventing "employee pilferage" and forces workers to wait in a queue for up to ten minutes to have their handbags or "personal …


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  1. Victor Ludorum
    Big Brother

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    I understand why they feel the need to do it, but who checks the security staff (or management, or whoever it is) ?


    1. Tom Wood

      Re: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

      While they maybe don't get checked personally, presumably the shop manager (and possibly by extension any security staff) will face penalties if head office starts to think too much stock is "disappearing" from the store.

    2. Crisp

      Re: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

      Obviously, they frisk each other.

    3. Stuart Duel
      Big Brother

      Re: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

      Indeed. Who watches the watchers?

      1. Demosthenese

        Re: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?


        ITYM Who watches the iWatches.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Canned Apple response

    If you don't like our employment policies... there's the door (but just go through security on your way out)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Canned Government Response

      If you don't like *our* employment legislation... there's the border (but just remember to pay off all that overtime on your way out)

      And let's bear in mind that this is retail- i.e. in this case it's about Apple selling things, not making or developing them- so if a given company wanted to (say) throw a strop and close all their shops, they don't have the same value (and hence leverage) as a factory or software development centre. It's quite likely their place would be filled by someone else who wants to sell the same or similar items.

      Incidentally, this is why the Google spokesperson was weasellishly disingenuous when being interviewed about the Google UK ads tax dodge a couple of months back. He implied that Google would like to invest more in the UK- implying that more development jobs could come here if conditions were more favourable. But of course, the profits that Google was avoiding paying tax on in the case being discussed had nothing to do with that- they were on advertising *sales* in the UK and aimed at UK companies (and their customers)... not development jobs.

      If Google wants to negotiate favourable terms for investing in development jobs in the UK, one might- or might not- be willing to consider this if it's in our benefit. But that's certainly not the same as selling ads here, and if Google wanted to stop doing *that* in the UK because the tax loophole had been closed, then they'd be quite at liberty to take their ball, go home and let someone else grab the business instead.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 1st world problem

      If that happens to me (phone ringing at knock-off time) then I take that time back the next day. Most workplaces are flexible and if they aren't, you're right, you should look for a new job.

      I think the employees are absolutely right. If Apple want them to take a security check, they should be paid for the time. And if they're not, they can tell Apple to do one.

      Suing is just setting a precedent for the rest of the employees, good on them I say. Too many employers rely on "goodwill" from their employees, when we all know that if push came to shove, they'd lay us off in a heartbeat if the business needed it.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: 1st world problem

      It is still against American labor laws to be engaged in ANY company required activity and not be paid if you are an hourly employee.

      That's why it's a matter for the court. It's the law, see?

      As for why how long, hourly employee usually can't afford lawyers. And this complaint may have taken this long just to get filed by the lawyers, who first have to make sure they even HAVE a case. An investigation that is not done overnight.

      Lawyers and the courts are not known for their speedy service.

      1. Eddy Ito

        Re: 1st world problem

        There is reason to dawdle since as long as the action is ongoing there is no statute of limitations and it only makes sense to have the greatest possible injury as it gets the greatest possible payout. I expect that if it is as pervasive as they say there will be class action rumblings starting shortly. This could end well, for the lawyers.

      2. Gordon 11

        Re: 1st world problem

        Lawyers and the courts are not known for their speedy service.

        Perhaps because they are charging by the hour and expecting to be paid for it?

    3. cs94njw

      Re: 1st world problem

      > Wish I could sue my employer for everytime that i'm _just_ about to leave my desk and go home and the phone rings and i'm stuck here for the next 40 minutes!

      Hey @jai, if you don't like the working environment, why don't you get a job elsewhere?

  4. Daniel Bower

    Doing it wrong

    Surely if you get caught with a stolen iThing by one of these checks you must have hidden it wrong...

  5. Jonathan 29


    I am going to guess that they wouldn't have this policy if employees weren't nicking stuff in the first place.

    1. Tachikoma

      Re: guess

      During my student years, I used to work in the local PoundLand for extra beer money, and they used to do very strict searches on all staff as they left the building. Cash office staff I could understand, but what would us shelf lackeys be able to steal other than a bottle of Jucee Squash or a Chinese knock-off Moshi Monsters Lip Gloss set?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: guess

      Let's not beat about the bush: apparently some shops loose more stock to their own staff than they do to shoplifters. Yes, theft by retail staff is a problem, but then so is working in a place where, every day, one is treated like a thief. I wouldn't want to work there.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: guess

        Most shops in the Rag trade lose FAR more.

        The door way security systems are to convince staff that "shrinkage" can't be blamed on the public.

        They are often set sensitive at first and then turned down to reduce the false positives. Professional thieves know how to beat them.

        The Motion sensor for alarm system behind & above till is often covert CCTV.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: guess

          But most of these thefts are staff loading a pallet of coffee/chocolate/cigs back onto the truck with a nod to the driver - not slipping a slipping a few frozen pies down their pants

  6. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Don't drag the bag

    > they are fed up with out-of-hours bag searches

    ... and yet they still insist on taking bags to work with them (or more significantly: trying to take them out, afterwards). Slow learners, or what?

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Don't drag the bag

      At HP, is was pocket searches and metal scanners. Much like American airports.

      It often took 10-15 minutes to leave the building. Bags weren't even ALLOWED.

      I calculated I was losing almost 55 hours per year of unpaid time.

      1. lglethal Silver badge

        Re: Don't drag the bag

        You should have sued them...

      2. Irongut

        Re: Don't drag the bag

        When I worked at HP searches were random. So yeah some days it might take 10 minutes to get out of the building but 90% of the time it took longer to walk across the car park.

        All the nicked stuff was going out on a van anyway.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fire them

    American companies don't need work-shy scroungers. Let them move to some socialist commie state where they can live off other people's tax payments.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fire them

      "Let them move to some socialist commie state where they can live off other people's tax payments."

      I realise that you're trolling, but it's quite the opposite- once those people are paid for the time they've had wasted on their employer's behalf, they'll be paying *more* tax on that.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Christ what next - suing as your train was late, suing as you had to park at the far end of the car park, suing as a colleague bought in cake on their birthday and you felt obliged to eat it and had to do another 10 minutes at the gym? Where does it end.

    If you don't like the job / conditions - do everyone a favour and leave.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      See post above regarding the LAW.

    2. Richard 120


      Were you aware that if your train is delayed by an hour or more you are most likely due compensation.

      If your tube journey is delayed by 15 minutes or more then your journey should be gratis.

      Your examples are all based on your own choice, the employees are not given the choice to leave without having their bag checked.

      It's about compensation, people should be properly compensated for what they do.

      What would be the problem with keeping them on the clock for the time they spend being checked?

      I don't work for free, and you're not doing yourself or anybody else any favours if you do.

      Work to Live, not the other way round.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Compensation

        Sue everyone. Where there's blame there's a claim. Eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind??

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Compensation

        What next - work somewhere where they have a uniform and sue because it's not your colour?

        If you don't like the job / conditions get another one.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Compensation

        > the employees are not given the choice to leave without having their bag checked.

        Of course they have a choice - they can get a job somewhere else or start their own business or... But no, they take the root of the typical hand-wringing liberal and sue the people who actually make money.

        1. cosymart

          Re: Compensation

          Root = Route, liberal??? There is no point in suing the people who don't make money. Apart from these basic errors your post is a poor troll. Please make more of an effort next time :-)

        2. Killraven

          Re: Compensation

          I love all of the "find another job" comments, spoken by people who have obviously been blessed enough to never have been job-hunting in a poor economy.

          Given your options for solving lack of job satisfaction, can we assume that you support setting minimum wage to zero, and elimination of the Department of Labor and OSHA? After all, none of those are needed if all job concerns can be taken care of by simply getting a new job. Totally free market right, what could possibly go wrong?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Compensation

            > who have obviously been blessed enough to never have been job-hunting in a poor economy.


            And there is a job, there is *ALWAYS* a job. People only say their isn't when they are too stuck-up to take a job that's on offer. This is why social benefits encourage laziness and need to go. GET A JOB! ANY JOB! There is no excuse (maybe disability) for being unemployed and living off the tax raised by others.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Make like an (Apple) tree and leaf...

  9. tempemeaty

    This can only go bad for fellow employees.

    Apple could decide to have a no more bags policy which means no more bringing lunches either. That will cost every worker.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: This can only go bad for fellow employees.

      You are either trolling or.... trolling.

      Companies cannot prevent employees, unless under dangerous/hazardous conditions, from bring their lunches.

      As bad as many seem to want the 19th century back, we're NOT there yet.

  10. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Shame their first recourse was "the law"

    Because there is so much fun, in an Ealing comedy way, to be had here.

    Imagine *every* employee turns up with a bag with hundreds of dummy iPhone/iPads/iPods inside ?

    And of course bags containing fermented Norwegian fish products ...

    On a more prosaic note, could the staff and management not discussed this and come up with a solution ? I mean of the top of my head, how about secure lockers outside the stock area ? I.e. what any other company would have done ?

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Shame their first recourse was "the law"

      It's not about the bags, it's about the unpaid but company mandated activity.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shame their first recourse was "the law"

      Yeah that's dead funny - you must have them rolling on the floor at work. But maybe, just maybe consider that your idea would make the situation worse - I wonder how long they would do it if it made the delay even longer?

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge

        Re: Shame their first recourse was "the law"

        Alternatively, how long would Apple continue with this policy if the checks started taking hours rather than minutes ? After all, the security guards have to be paid for the time they are there. If these checks started costing Apple $200 per shift rather than $20, they'd get the message.

        If the staff banded together, and agreed to suffer a little extra pain, for collective gain, they could *easily* win.

        The problem is anything which looks and sounds like collective activism in the workplace in the US is regarded with deep suspicion as "socialist". You know. Like universal healthcare.

        Luckily some of us did study a bit of history, and know the sacrifices our ancestors had to make to give us the conditions we have today. It would be a poorer world if they had decided against acting because it might "cost a few minutes".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Shame their first recourse was "the law"

          So your answer is make it difficult for them so they can't check if people are thieving - so people who are can get away with it? Let's get it straight are you against it because they are not getting paid or against it on the principle?

          1. JimmyPage Silver badge

            Re: Shame their first recourse was "the law"

            I am against it, because Apple are making their staff pay for *Apples* problem. Apple are free to introduce the security measures they feel appropriate (Clearly those security measures haven't gone as far as making an unsold/unactivated device inoperable) but they can't make the staff pay for such measures (with their time).

            Personally I am against companies who want to own their employees - and the US leads the way here. Rafts of companies testing employees for alcohol, and inviting ones "with a problem" to "address the issue" or get a new job. If *my* employer want's to mandate what I do outside the office, they can pay up or shut up.

            I had an interview for a US owned company* that included tobacco testing in their contract. Positive and you are disciplined. They only hired non-smokers.

            *Kalamazoo for doubters.

            1. Dr. Mouse

              Re: Shame their first recourse was "the law"

              "I had an interview for a US owned company* that included tobacco testing in their contract. Positive and you are disciplined. They only hired non-smokers."

              Surely that is discrimination....

              .... Oh wait, I forgot. Smokers are one of the few minorities you are allowed, nay, encouraged to discriminate against.

              1. Dr. Mouse

                Re: Shame their first recourse was "the law"

                Reminds me of a South Park episode (as does everything at the moment)

                TOUR GUIDE: We have to accept people for who they are and what they like to do. Hey! What the hell are you doing?

                SMOKER: Oh I was just uh-

                TOUR GUIDE: There's no smoking in the museum!

                SMOKER: But I'm not in the museum.

                TOUR GUIDE: Get out of here, you filthy smoker!

                KYLE'S FATHER: Yeah, dirty lungs!


                1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                  Re: Shame their first recourse was "the law"

                  The punchline being it was the "museum of tolerance"

    3. Michael 28

      Re: Shame their first recourse was "the law"

      Mmmm!.... Hakarl and durian fruit salad.

      Personally I'd just use the products to create a Massive torrent server inside the store.

      or something similar..... anyone remember that guy who broke up acrimoniously with his girlfriend, went on holiday for a few weeks expecting the house to be a tip. He returned to find the house neat and clean,except for the phone, off the hook , with a foreign sounding voice on the other end.

      She'd phoned the Japanese speaking clock.



  11. Christoph

    Employee Motivation

    The beatings will continue until morale improves

    If you treat your staff with obvious disrespect then it is ridiculous to expect loyalty from them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Employee Motivation

      So instead just let them walk out with the stock? Hmm...

      Ever wonder why they check / cross check the cash tallies in a bank - or even when you pay in £500 it really is £500 - what disrespect they should just trust you of course?

      iPhones at £400-500 a pop are pretty pocketable and I'd imagine they must have lost quite a few.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Employee Motivation


        Just pay you for the extra time.

        Or make you finish 10 minutes early so you have 10 minutes to get checked.

        Or Get better detection and searching tech so it doesnt take all that time.

        TBH, as far as phones are concerned, in europe, they can all be remotely locked via their IMEI numbers, so the fact they cant seem to do this with phones nicked from the store in the US seems to be a failiure of will on Apple's part.

      2. Psyx

        Re: Employee Motivation

        "So instead just let them walk out with the stock? Hmm..."

        If you don't trust your staff to the extent of searching them twice a day, it begs the question "why did you hire them?" and "What are you not doing as an employer that makes them feel that they have good reason to steal stuff?"

        Granted, nobody is perfect and bad apples slip through, but the extent of the intrusion is indicative of a company who has ZERO faith in the people they hired who are implicitly in a role which requires them to be trusted. That's a failure of the company, not the staff, and not the few bad apples.

      3. Killraven

        Re: Employee Motivation

        "...So instead just let them walk out with the stock? Hmm......"

        Or you could do something really simply like have your time clock by the door, and perform the bag checks while the employees are leaving, so they can clock out immediately after.

        Or is that too much of a strain for common sense?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Employee Motivation

      You really reckon it's unfair to check people are not taking resellable, £500 a pop iPhones / other kit? Guess banks and jewellers just work on trust and don't mind the employees taking the odd Rolex or ring?

      And FFS why should they have CCTV to spy on me putting cash in the till? That's it - unless a company has no issue with me taking whatever stock and money I like I'm not working for them ;)

  12. Dr. Mouse

    Now while I am dead against the (generally American, but increasingly the rest of the world's) problem of "sue first", I do agree with the principals involved here.

    Many on here will be salaried. In most salaried positions, you will do some overtime without expecting payment. For extended periods, you may expect some time off in lieu. But then, you are likely in a reasonably well paid job, and this behaviour is expected.

    For those who are hourly paid, especially on lower rates, there is an expectation that you are paid for all the time that you are doing something mandated by your employer. Others have already mentioned that this is a legal requirement in the US. As these searches were a requirement, I do believe they should be paid for that time.

    In addition, there are no details, but it is possible that they tried to reach an agreement with their employers first. If so, the legal system exists for these cases. If not, I have to ask (as should the court): Why not?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Getitng more and more common.

      As a (UK) contractor searches were common when doing work for larger retail (etc) chains. Jobs I did for tesco, TK Maxx and Iceland (the "food" retailer, not the country) all involved bag checks on the way in and out.

      Presumably both because some contractors were thieving sods (like some would be from any group of people) AND because when contractors are in thieving staff used to rob them blind and simply blame aforementioned contractors.

      IIRC the "TK Maxx" contract our company insisted on the searches rather than the standard of the other company insisting.

      Of course as a contractor you got paid for this.

    2. RichieB

      Worked one place (many years ago) where random security checks were done as you left the building. The main reason people didn't mind too much was that the time cards were punched after the security point.

      1. Psyx

        I very much doubt that I'd want to work for anyone who feels the need to search me as I leave each day.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Haha, someone earlier made some comment in another Apple related story about Jasper Hammil and his overuse of the word 'fanbois' in relation to the 'Fruity firm'.

    Do you think he's just stitched himself up or that he saw it and thought 'well go fuck yourself then!'?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back in the days of UK Unions

    Employees were given 10 minutes before lunch and before knock-off time, to clean up, wash hands etc

    Why dont they just phase leaving to start 10 minutes before, people get checked and wait in the outer area for the closing bell?

  15. Yet Another Commentard

    Surely the problem just moves...

    I assume the worry is that nefarious iEmployee removes an iThingy from inventory, and its attendant security tag, stuffs it in their bag and leaves at the end of the day. There is then a search, and they are caught.

    Surely the half-thinking nefarious iEmployee would just do all of the above, but have a partner in crime who visits as a "shopper" who leaves with the iDevice in his or her bag, and isn't searched on account of being a customer.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Surely the problem just moves...

      You seem to be applying logical thought to this - remember it's a "management policy"

  16. XcOM

    Simple Answer

    When I worked in places in the past the where searched where it was quick and painless taking less than a minute or two that's fine,

    Others where it took longer we were either paid for the time spent waiting to be searched or we got to knock off earlier than usual for the search.

    No one in the right mind would dispute that apple is well within there rights to search its employees upon leaving the shop, they have to protect them selves after all, but in the same respect the staff can't be expected to stop back ages waiting to be searched.

    I can see apples point of view that they need to do these are there is a lot of stock that's worth a lot to them. But on the other hand you can't expect the staff to wait around forever and a day to be searched unpaid.

    The answer is simple, use either of the examples above of leaving earlier, getting paid for the time spent, or making it really quick.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Simple Answer

      The answer is simple, use either of the examples above of leaving earlier, getting paid for the time spent, or making it really quick.

      I'd guess it would become self policing. If the employees are being paid for the time spent checking, the time spent checking will be as short as possible. Of course if the *employees* are paying for it, then it will become as long as possible.

    2. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: Simple Answer

      Bang on: no-one should be complaining about the security, the only issue is that the time waiting for it is unpaid.

      Tangentially, the most creative and sensible scheme I've seen involved having a pack of cards in a gambling casino-type "shoe" on the security guard's desk. Every employee took a card, and if it had a big red dot on it, then their bags were searched; no red dot, no search.

      Management could increase or decrease the number of cards with dots, but it was obviously and manifestly random and so extremely effective without being intrusive.

  17. David 14

    Not a big deal - should have been able to fix out of court.

    This is pretty black and white in terms of compensation, it would seem to me. The time should be compensated at the legal amounts. What may be difficult is that the amount required will differ based on State, as I believe employment standards differ between states... I know in Canada, our Provinces have different standards.

    I would assume the issue was brought up to management at the store to no avail... which would have precipitated the legal action. These type of law suits are not uncommon, and are viable and valid ways to deal with multiple interpretations of law - you get a judge to... well... judge.

    Hope the requirements are clarified and suitable compensation is offered as/if required,

  18. Pu02

    Wow. Imagine what the do at the factories in Shenzhen:

    Queue here, stand here, remove clothes, bend over...

    All unpaid at $0.02 /hour or $1 per week compared to $3000 per week when calculated at TC's (Top Cat/Tim Cooke's ) rate.

    Shameful... but all driving value back to the shareholders so it can't be bad...

  19. JaitcH

    If you treat your employees like shit ...

    then it follows you will treat your customers likewise.

    What is to stop an dishonest employee from giving an acquaintance, visiting a store, the goods he wants taken out illegally?

    Nothing. I usually decline to do business with stores like that as they usually penalise staff for loses, too.

    There is a hotel in Hoi An, VietNam, that uses the same scheme, and after I and a fellow employee (we were on a hotel qualification inspection) filmed the process each day.

    After a few days a manager approached me and asked what I was filming. I explained my purpose of checking hotels and that we filmed his 'security' inspections to give negative publicity to our trade clients (travel agents and tour operators) which is part of our business.

    A couple of days later it had stopped and, after checking for a year, still remains a thing of the past.

    Near my office there is a supermarket where, in public near the store entrance, all employees are scanned and hand searched even if they go to the toilets. And that includes the manager.

    I asked him who had key access to the store and he replied five people. I asked what was to stop them returning after hours and pinching something

    He replied nothing. I said it was therefore pointless searching them and they, too, stopped.

    If employees want to steal product, they will, but that does NOT excuse their employer from humiliating them.

  20. Killraven

    About Time

    I've been wondering why something like this hasn't happened already. My wife works for a major retail store (non-mall attached) and they have to deal with this same thing. She easily loses an hour per week while waiting. There are no fast food places within reasonable walking distance either, so almost everybody packs a lunch, which means that almost everybody has something to search.

  21. Telford dave

    A matter of trust.

    Although some random checks are proportionate if you are doing this on a systematic basis you have to ask Apple:

    "Why do you employ staff that are untrustworthy?"

    "If you consider your staff are untrustworthy why should your customers trust them?"

  22. Darren Barratt

    Not unusual

    I went through the same thing working for Amazon. You clock out and then join a queue to go through an air port style arch and have your pockets and shoes checked by a cheerless security gonk. Usually added about 10 - 15 minutes to the end of your shift.

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