California's highest court ruled Apple store employees must be paid for the time it takes to have their belongings checked before leaving.
The state's Supreme Court concluded that the "mandatory exit searches of bags, packages, or personal Apple technology devices" count as "hours worked" under California law.
The court says Apple retail stores require workers to clock out before the searches, and some employees have waited up to 45 minutes for their belongings to be checked. Employees estimate it takes anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes for their personal iPhones or other Apple electronics serial numbers to be checked against the personal technology log.
Apple argued personal items could be left at home. But the court called the argument ironic. It referenced an interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook from 2017 where Cook referred to the iPhone as having "become so integrated and integral to our lives, you wouldn’t think about leaving home without it."
The court says Apple is welcome to change its exit search policy to minimize delays, but it still must pay its employees for that time.
The ruling is retroactive, meaning employees could be eligible for back pay from as far back as summer of 2009.