Time Spent Waiting for Required Exit Search Is Compensable Under California Law

Time Spent Waiting for Required Exit Search Is Compensable Under California Law

On February 13, 2020, the California Supreme Court in Frlekin v. Apple Inc. held that time spent by employees on their employer’s premises waiting for, and undergoing, required exit searches of packages, bags, or personal technology devices voluntarily brought to work purely for personal convenience is compensable as “hours worked” within the meaning of Wage Order 7. The plaintiff’s lawsuit alleged that Apple failed to pay the certified class of employees minimum and overtime wages for time spent waiting for and undergoing Apple’s exit searches in violation of California law. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit asked California’s high court to decide the question of California law.

The Frlekin court noted that Apple’s exit searches were required as a practical matter, occurred at the workplace, involved a significant degree of control by the employer, were imposed primarily for Apple’s benefit, and were enforced through threat of discipline. Acknowledging that the U.S. Supreme Court had held that time spent undergoing mandatory security screenings was not compensable under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, the Frlekin court held that under California law, the “hours worked” control clause of the Wage Order required that the plaintiffs be paid for the time spent waiting for required exit searches.