by Michelle R. Ferber and Alexandra P. Saddik

California employers are governed by industry and occupational specific wage orders issued by the Industrial Welfare Commission.  These orders govern wage and hour requirements for all employees working in California and are liberally construed in favor of the employee.

The California Supreme Court’s recent decision in Frlekin v. Apple is no exception.  There, the Court concluded that “time spent on the employer’s premises waiting for, and undergoing, required exit searches” of personal belongings brought to work are compensable as “hours worked” under Wage Order 7.

Plaintiffs in the case worked as retail store employees in Apple stores.  Company policy dictated that Apple employees clock out, then submit themselves to a search of any personal packages, bags, or technology as a safeguard against stealing.  Employees were expected to track down either a security guard or a manager to conduct the search.

The Court noted various factors which it found equated to “control” over the employees.  These factors include disciplinary consequences, including termination for failure to follow the process, requiring the employees to remain in the workplace while they are waiting for and undergoing the search and requiring employees to look for someone to conduct the search.

Of significance, the Court concluded that this holding is retroactive.  As such, it is important for employers to reassess their workplace policies to ensure that they are complying with this Court’s interpretation of compensable time.  For example, employers should review timekeeping policies for activities such as staff meetings or meals, safety meetings or inspections or uniform/equipment “dress up or dress down” time.

Ferber Law is ready to assist you with any questions you may have about the steps your business may need to take to determine what is considered compensable time and how to implement compliant practices.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.