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Ex-workers sue Apple, seek overtime for daily bag searches

An iPhone 5 is pictured on display at an Apple Store in Pasadena, California July 22, 2013.REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
An iPhone 5 is pictured on display at an Apple Store in Pasadena, California July 22, 2013.REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Two former Apple Inc employees have accused the iPhone maker in a lawsuit of subjecting hourly store workers to daily searches while they were off-the-clock, arguing they should be compensated.

The "screenings" or bag searches, designed to discourage theft, are conducted every time sales reps leave the store, including for meal breaks, the plaintiffs alleged in a lawsuit filed July 25 in a San Francisco federal court.

They are seeking unpaid wages, overtime compensation and other penalties related to what they say is a customary practice across Apple's U.S. showrooms. The two plaintiffs said they worked for Apple over a number of years, from California to Georgia and Florida.

Lawsuits from within Apple's ranks are rare, in part because the company is known to command loyalty amongst its workers. In 2011 however, a part-time employee at an Apple store in San Francisco sought to form a union to fight for better wages and benefits and to address what he called unfair practices within the company's showrooms.

Both plaintiffs, who are seeking class-action status on behalf of every current and former Apple hourly employee, estimated in their lawsuit that they often waited in line for roughly 5 to 10 minutes or more before undergoing each check.

It's unclear whether the policy extends beyond Apple's home shores. The company has more 400 stores around the world.

"This work, done primarily for the employer's benefit, is time which Apple hourly employees should be, but are not compensated for, both straight hours and overtime hours worked in excess of 40 hours a week," the lawsuit read.

Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

The case in U.S. Northern District Court is Amanda Frlekin and Dean Pelle et al v Apple Inc, 3:13-cv-03451-EDL

(Editing by Michael Urquhart)

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