June 19, 2024

Apple Settles Lawsuit Alleging Wage Theft for Salespeople

In a recent development, tech giant Apple has settled a lawsuit filed by its salespeople, alleging the company of underpaying them for overtime work and failing to cover business expenses. The $500,000 settlement has been approved by California federal district Judge Vince Chhabria.

The incident comes to attention considering the relatively small size of the settlement compared to the massive quarterly profits that Apple makes.

Initially, the lawsuit was filed in July 2022, and subsequently, it was amended. It revolved around the claims made by two sales representatives serving the big tech giant as “solutions consultants”.

These sales professionals had the responsibility to sell Apple products in AT&T, Best Buy, T-Mobile US, Verizon, and other third-party stores.

The salespersons complained of Apple’s failure to compensate them for all the hours worked, particularly when it came to calculating overtime pay, including commissions of sales.

Apple Accused Of “Wage Theft” For Not Clearing Overtime Dues

Apple requested its solutions consultants to start their workday via online video conferences from home. They had to clock out after these conferences and then travel to their designated work locations, all without receiving any payment for the time spent during the transit.

Thus, Apple was accused of “wage theft” by the Economic Policy Institute, a non-profit advocacy group.

Wage theft occurs any time employees do not receive wages to which they are legally entitled for their labor.EPI

Apple has denied these allegations consistently, but the motion for settlement approval, dated August 16, 2023, suggested that the accusers may have overreached in their claims.

The discovery materials reveal that Apple did retroactively pay a regular rate to solutions consultants, including earned commissions, one or two days after the work was performed.

The report mentions, “This shifted the question from whether Solutions Consultants were still owed unpaid overtime wages including earned commissions, to whether Solutions Consultants are owed liquidated damages”.

The motion also stated that at least some of the solution consultants, including lead solution consultants, were paid for their travel time. This challenges the broader claims of unpaid work hours.

Wage Theft is a Contentious Issue in the United States

In the US, wage theft continues to be an ongoing issue. The Economic Policy Institute reported that in 2021, stolen wages over $3 billion had been recovered on behalf of workers through various means.

This included actions from the state labor departments, the U.S. Department of Labor, class-action lawsuits, and attorneys general.

The concept of ‘wage theft’ includes a wide range of instances, such as workers being paid less than their minimum wage, asking employees to work outside their regular shift “off the clock”, or failing to pay overtime wages for the time worked beyond 40 hours a week.

At a time when debates are raging in the US involving labor rights and wage theft, the settlement of this lawsuit comes into the spotlight. While Apple has resolved this particular legal challenge, the broader issue of fair compensation and labor practices remains a significant concern for workers.

This incident serves as a reminder of the importance of upholding labor rights and protecting employees in the evolving workplace.

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