Lawsuit claims Apple ‘treats employees as criminals’

by Chloe Taylor15 Jun 2015
Apple is due to appear in court after some of its retail staff took action against the time they were forced to spend undergoing ‘embarrassing’ security checks.

Employees at Apple’s retail stores in the US reportedly complained directly to chief executive Tim Cook that they were embarrassed and demeaned by a policy which allowed the checking of their bags for security purposes.

A court filing that was made public last Wednesday has revealed that the employees’ complaints alleged Apple should compensate employees for the time it took to conduct the searches.

According to Reuters, one worker sent Cook a message in 2012 that claimed Apple managers “are required to treat ‘valued’ employees as criminals”.

The email – which included the subject line “Fearless Feedback from Apple Retail Specialist” – alleged that the policy implies the company distrusts its employees.

“These procedures are often performed in front of gawking customers,” the member of staff claimed, adding that employees should be treated with the same respect that the tech giant extends to its customers.

Upon receiving the message, Cook is reported to have forwarded it to senior HR executives along with the question: “is this true?”

The court filing did not detail the responses that Cook’s query received.

The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. In the lawsuit, plaintiffs Amanda Friekin and Dean Pelle alleged that “screenings” are conducted each time a member of the sales team leaves an Apple store – even for meal breaks.

In a similar email sent to Cook and other Apple managers by a retail employee based in Beijing, it was alleged that the company treats employees “as animals” and thieves.

The worker also claimed that an emergency exit in his workplace is blocked by Apple products.

Although Cook’s response to the email was not detailed in the court filing, a discussion on the bag search policy by other executives has been publicised.

“If it is simply a deterrent there has to be a more intelligent and respectful way to approach,” suggested Denise Young Smith, Apple’s vice president of human resources.

A hearing is scheduled for July 2.


  • by Whats the big deal? 15/06/2015 11:21:25 AM

    Bag / locker check is pretty common practice in some industries eg manufacturing / distribution of valuable, easy to move consumer goods like CDs and DVS. Although improvements in technology have meant that its more of a secondary measure in lieu of the use of airport style scanning devices.

    Its usually a direct result of having endured theft of such items! Would be interesting to know how much Apple product gets flogged from its retail stores...

  • by caca 16/06/2015 12:02:11 PM

    This is very common, I'm not sure why this would be a relevant case.
    I worked in retail stores in America and we were checked at the end of our shift in every place I worked.
    I wasn't checked for meal breaks though but that was mainly because I worked in very busy stores and generally you only walk out with your wallet, not your whole bag.
    Perhaps just changing the way they check people in front of customers.

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