Apple Inc. will pay nearly US$30m to settle a long-standing class action suit filed by some 15,000 US workers over the tech company's mandate to check employees' bags after workers clock out.
The settlement is in response to a policy that allegedly breached California law because it had subjected staff members to security checks outside of their work hours. The searches purportedly took as long as 45 minutes, post the workers' shift, in order to allow security personnel to go through the contents of workers' backpacks and purses and check for their own electronic devices.
In some instances, the screenings were also said to have been done in the presence of customers, causing workers to feel degraded and ashamed, the lawsuit claimed.
The workplace rule prompted more than 14,600 workers across 52 Apple Stores to lodge the case in 2013.
An appellate court last year sided with the workers, pressuring Apple to compensate them for the time spent in queue. The ruling came after Apple initially won in its motion to junk the case in 2015.
Court documents also revealed how two employees complained directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook, who was reportedly unaware of the policy. In learning of the complaint, Cook was said to have forwarded the note to senior members of the retail and HR departments, asking: "Is this true?"
The managers' response to Cook's query remains unclear. However, Apple's former VP of diversity Denise Young Smith said at the time: "There has to be a more intelligent and respectful" way to handle security checks.
While Apple argued that the security checks were essential to preventing theft among store employees and that staff could easily opt out of the policy by not bringing in their bags to work, the company eventually decided to discontinue the security screenings, Bloomberg reported.
Apple has declined to issue a statement on the settlement but has agreed to pay each complainant more than $1,200 each.