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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Apple Employees Say The Company Treated Them Like "Criminals" and "Animals"

Posted By on Thu, Jun 11, 2015 at 3:51 PM

click to enlarge JEREMY PIEHLER/FLICKR
  • Jeremy Piehler/Flickr

Recently unsealed emails from a 2013 lawsuit against Apple portray the tech giant as a kind of nanny state on high alert for thieving employees. According to KRON 4, in April 2012 an unnamed Apple employee sent CEO Tim Cook an email with the subject line “Fearless Feedback from Apple Retail Specialist.” In the email, which likely flouted every bit of protocol in the company’s HR playbook, the employee complained about not being compensated for the time it took managers to inspect personal bags for stolen merchandise. The employee lambasted the bag check policy as “both insulting and demeaning to Apple employees,” adding that workers were treated like “criminals” by store managers.

Cut to January 2013, when an employee at an Apple Store in Beijing also emailed Cook to say the company treated employees “as animals,” noting that the emergency exit at one Beijing Apple store was allegedly blocked by Apple products.

Although Cook’s replies were not unsealed, Kron 4 reports that the company’s HR chief, Denise Young Smith, sent the following to strategies head Carol Monkowski: “I don’t like that practice either [bag checks], but I do understand why they believe it’s necessary. I’d like to explore other options, i.e., random checks like TSA.”

In a lawsuit filed against Apple in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in 2013, two former employees estimated their lost wages at $1,500 per year as they were made to wait off-the-clock as managers searched staff for stolen merchandise. (Per Kron 4, store employees are issued cards that sync with the serial numbers of their personal Apple devices. At the end of their shift, employees present their card, their iPhone, and their personal bags for inspection.) 

In December, the Supreme Court ruled that companies don’t have to pay workers for security checks since time spent waiting for such isn’t a “principal activity” of labor. That case, which grew out of a lawsuit filed by employees at an warehouse in Nevada, reversed a lower court ruling that originally favored compensating workers for time spent in security checks. In the Amazon case, employees said they spent as long as 25 minutes waiting for security clearance to go home.

Apple also faces separate lawsuits from employees who claim they were denied meal breaks and rest periods as per California labor law.

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Jeremy Lybarger


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