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Judge bins Apple Store end-of-shift shakedown lawsuit

Want to avoid bag search, iThing staffer? Then don't bring a bag, says beak

Apple Store employees are better off turning up to work without a bag, if – that is – they want to avoid being frisked for stolen goods at the end of their shifts.

On Saturday, a judge chucked out a class action lawsuit that had been brought against Apple by two ex-staffers, who had objected to the shake downs taking place during lunch breaks or after they had clocked off work for the day.

Former Apple Store employees Amanda Frlekin and Dean Pelle first launched a sueball at Cupertino in 2013. They had sought compensation from the tech giant.

In July this year, the lawsuit was granted class-action status in San Francisco by US District Judge William Alsup – thereby flinging it open to up to 12,000 past and present workers in Apple's 52 stores across California.

However, Apple has seen off the lawsuit after Alsup ruled that staffers chose to bring bags to work, thereby subjecting themselves to the checks that were in line with Apple policy to "reduce employee theft at retail stores".

He added in the ruling (PDF):

The control theory of liability requires proving two elements. The first is that the employer restrains the employee’s action during the activity in question.

The second is that the employee has no plausible way to avoid the activity; put differently, the activity must be mandatory and not optional at the discretion of the worker.

Here, the first element is met, namely control, for once the worker wishes to leave with a bag, the worker is restricted and must stand in line for the security screening.

The second element, however, is not met, for the Apple worker can choose not to bring to work any bag or other items subject to the search rule.

He added: "Rather than prohibiting employees from bringing bags and personal Apple devices into the store altogether, Apple took a milder approach to theft prevention and offered its employees the option to bring bags and personal Apple devices into a store subject to the condition that such items must be searched when the[y] leave the store."

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit had argued that Apple's policy was "demeaning" and "embarrassing" and made them feel like they were being treated as "criminals".

Apple declined to comment. ®

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