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Apple Inc. Ordered to Pay $2 Million to Settle Lawsuit over Pay, Meal and Rest Periods

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San Diego, CA: A lawsuit that appeared to fly under the radar last year in spite of involving what is considered one of the largest corporations in the world, resulted in an order for Apple Inc. to pay $2 million to class participants in a class action lawsuit alleging missed meal breaks, rest periods and failure to pay employees in a timely manner. Meal breaks and rest periods are mandated by California law as a means to ensure employees are well rested and nourished, and not overcome by working too many hours at a time without pause for food and rest, potentially leading to an unsafe situation. The California Division of Labor Enforcement is one such branch of the California legislative authority mandating employers, small and large, to look out for the rights, and wellbeing of their employees.

According to an online report by CNN tech (12/15/16), the lawsuit was filed in 2011 by four individuals employed by Apple in San Diego.

Plaintiffs were identified as Joseph Lane Carco, Ramsey Hawkins, Ryan Goldman and Brandon Felczer, the latter serving as the lead plaintiff in what evolved to a class action lawsuit when the case was granted class certification in 2013 (Felczer et al v. Apple Inc., Case No. 37-2011-00102593, in the Superior Court of the State of California, San Diego).

The plaintiffs asserted that Apple denied them of their rights as entrenched in California labor law. Those statutes require that employers provide hourly workers a 30 minute meal period when toiling more than five hours a day. Employers are also required to provide 10 minute rest breaks for every four hours worked.

Plaintiffs asserted that Apple dropped the ball on this, although CNN tech noted that Apple made changes to their scheduling policy in 2012 – the year after the lawsuit was initially brought, and the year before the lawsuit was certified as a class action.

According to the Court record associated with the lawsuit, Apple also stood accused of “failure to furnish accurate itemized wage statements, and failure to timely pay wages on the end of employment,” amongst other allegations.

California observes strict guidelines as to when employees are to receive their final wages, according to provisions in California Labor Code Sections 201, 201.5, 202, 208, and 227.3 amongst others applicable to various situations.

To the allegation of failure to timely pay wages at the end of employment, Court documents show that lead plaintiff Felczer ended his employment with Apple on November 23, 2011. Felczer, according to documents, provided more than 72 hours advance notice as to when he intended to end his association with the employer. It should be noted that in California, there is no requirement for an employee to provide advance notice of intent to leave a job.

The lawsuit noted that Felczer was provided with his final check two days after ending his employment, with said check provided November 25, 2011. California Labor Code Section 202 requires that an employee who gives at least 72 hours’ notice and leaves on the day noted in his resignation, must receive all final wages on that day.

Four days after that, on November 29, Apple was accused of paying Felczer an inadequate amount of waiting time penalties.

There were other examples of alleged delays over issuing final wages. Plaintiff Carco, according to Court documents, resigned from Apple’s employ on, or about June 20, 2008. Court documents associated with the lawsuit suggest Carco did not receive his final paycheck until July 1 of that year. California Labor Code Section 202 stipulates that employees who don’t give advance notice must receive their final wages within 72 hours.

Plaintiff Goldman’s employment was terminated by Apple on January 11, 2011. The lawsuit asserts Goldman’s final check was not drafted until February 4, 2011 and not received by the plaintiff until February 7 of that year. According to California Labor Code Sections 201 and 227.3, “an employee who is discharged must be paid all of his or her wages, including accrued vacation, immediately at the time of termination.”

CNN tech reported that Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Division of Occupational Safety and Health for the State of California is but one example of State governance with a mandate to keep employees safe, and to maintain a healthy work environment that doesn’t put the employee at undue risk under Title Eight of the California Code of Regulations.

However, the arm of governance which enforces areas such as meal breaks and rest periods falls under the mandate of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), under the umbrella of the Office of the California Labor Commissioner. To that end, DLSE regulations cover areas of workplace law that are not site-specific, such as access to rest periods and meal breaks, and wage and hour issues.

The lawsuit was centered on issues within the jurisdiction of DLSE.

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