Late last month, protestors gathered at Apple’s flagship retail store in San Francisco. Roughly 50 protestors staged a sit-in inside the store for an hour. The protestors were able to block the main entrance, forcing customers to enter through a side door. Twelve of those who were gathered were arrested for unlawful assembly.
The protestors reportedly belong to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which claimed that Apple regularly underpays its contractors, including security guards. It also claimed that Apple hires contractors for part-time jobs in order to avoid paying benefits. Other protestors said that security officers have no job protection, and that they are afraid to miss a day of work for fear of losing their jobs. Protestors vowed to protest again. The company that contracts security guards for many tech companies fired back, claiming that its workers are among the best paid in the business, and that it was the target of a vicious corporate campaign by SEIU.
This protest is not the first time Apple has been criticized for its employment practices. Last year, a lawsuit was filed because employees were forced to go through two mandatory searches per day, which were unpaid. The searches were done in order to ensure the employees weren’t stealing merchandise. Another lawsuit against Apple that is still ongoing involved 20,000 workers who claim they have been denied lunch breaks, rest breaks, and final paychecks.
Companies, such as Apple, that hire employees are legally obligated to follow federal and state employment laws. If they fail to follow the law, they can be sued and forced to pay back pay, benefits, fines, and more. There are a variety of laws with which employers must comply. Companies must follow minimum-wage laws, which require employees to be paid at least $9 per hour in California. In addition, if employees work more than a certain number of hours in a week, the employee must be paid overtime. Companies also have an obligation to provide workers with lunch breaks, rest breaks, and to pay them for all of the hours which they have worked.
In addition, it appears that Apple may have broken the law by requiring workers to go through searches of their property on their own time. While companies can require workers to submit to searches before leaving the property, especially in an industry in which thefts are common, the employees must be paid for that time. In general, if an employee is required to be on the premises, they must be paid.
However, Apple is not violating the law with respect to minimum wage, which is what the protestors were protesting against. Allegedly, Apple pays its security guards roughly $15 an hour, which is almost twice the minimum wage in California. Although employees claim that they have no job security, and that may make the job unpleasant or difficult, it’s not illegal. Unless the employees had an employment contract that listed specific reasons for which employees could be fired, in general an employer has the right to terminate an employee for almost any reason. However, an employee in California cannot be terminated on the basis of age, race, religion, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, disability, and other similar characteristics.
As you can see, employment issues can arise in almost any job. In most cases, it’s best for the employee to hire an attorney who specializes in employment matters. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that employees whose rights are being violated should stand up for themselves in court.
If you have had your legal rights violated by an employer, call Micha Star Liberty, Oakland Employment Law Attorney, at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. She works with clients throughout the Oakland – San Francisco Bay area, and can provide you with a free consultation on your case. Call today to learn more.