Apple Store employees filed the suit against Apple claiming compensation for time spent having their bags searched at the end of their shifts.
The lawsuit related to bag searches at 52 Apple retail locations in California, and it has now been certified as a class-action by U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco, writes Dan Levine for Reuters.
Employees had made complaints to Apple CEO Tim Cook
Judge Alsup made the ruling on Thursday as part of a case in which employees are seeking compensation for the time taken to perform the bag searches, which are used to prevent theft from Apple Stores.
According to court filings, a number of employees sent emails to Apple CEO Tim Cook to complain about the practice, arguing that it is embarrassing and demeaning for staff to have their bags checked in front of customers.
Class-action lawsuits allow plaintiffs to present their case as a group, and usually afford them a stronger position when it comes to negotiating a settlement. As a result of the ruling, Apple is now facing a lawsuit from over 12,000 current and former employees.
A spokesperson for the company did not comment on the ruling.
Current and former employees can now seek compensation
According to plaintiffs Amanda Frlekin and Dean Pelle, the “screenings” are undertaken each time Apple Store employees leave the store, including for breaks. Lawsuits from inside Apple staff are very uncommon.
One unidentified worker wrote to Cook in 2012, telling him that the policy on bag searches mean Apple managers “are required to treat ‘valued’ employees as criminals.”
Cook then passed the message on to retail and human resources executives, asking them” “is this true?” Details of the responses that he received were not included in the court filing.
The iPhone manufacturer attempted to stop the case being made a class-action, arguing that not all store managers performed screenings, and that when searches did occur, they took so little time that compensation was not necessary.
The plaintiffs allege that bag searches often added 10-15 minutes to their shifts, which went unpaid.
Judge Alsup told the company that those arguments would be heard during the trial.