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California judge certifies workers’ class action against Apple

An employer's expectations may be directly in line with federal and California employment laws. Some companies have more generous policies than provided by law. Unfortunately, it's more common to hear about businesses that violate workers' rights, including misclassification of employees and skimping on wages and rest breaks.

Some employers target workers at the bottom of the pay scale, since low-wage employees are the least likely to file or be able to afford to pursue an employment lawsuit. Class-action lawsuits allow workers who share the same complaint to unite against a formidable, deep-pocketed defendant. A California case against Apple over wage and hour violations includes almost 21,000 plaintiffs, some of whom still work for the globally-recognized technology company.

Apple is under fire for allegedly shorting its hourly employees on break times and compensation. A Superior Court judge recently certified the class-action status, giving approval for the case to move forward. The workers stated Apple violated break and wage laws between December 2007 and August 2012.

The company reportedly forced employees to work five hours before giving workers breaks. California employment laws direct employers to give breaks during and not after those five hours. Some plaintiffs stated Apple's worker schedules made it almost impossible to take rest or meal breaks at all.

Additionally, Apple is charged with not paying employees for hours spent working during break times and delaying final paychecks to workers who left the company. Plaintiffs said wage statements showed hourly employees didn't receive full compensation for the actual time spent working.Talking about working conditions at Apple was forbidden, backed by threats of employee disciplinary measures, terminations and possible lawsuits.

A judgment against Apple would not make any of the thousands of plaintiffs wealthy. However, a verdict in the plaintiffs' favor could be welcome relief for employees, who otherwise might not recover the alleged financial losses. Employment law attorneys champion claims for individuals or groups of workers against employers who break labor laws.

Source: San Jose Mercury News, "Apple faces class-action lawsuit over work breaks" Pete Carey, Jul. 23, 2014

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