There has recently been a rising debate about the legality of employee bag checks. Not whether bag checks are legal (they are) but whether bag checks should be conducted on or off the clock. This may seem like a trivial manner unless you are one of the thousands of California employees standing in line for five to thirty minutes waiting to have your bag checked every day after you clock out.

Isn’t this mandatory work time? Shouldn’t you be paid for it? The way the law and courts will rule on this issue will likely depend on just how much of your unpaid time the bag checks are taking. Are back checks stealing your paycheck? Let’s find out. We’ll start at the least-problematic type of mandatory bag check and work our way down to the big issue. 

Quick Delay at the End of the Day

When you leave for work every day (and perhaps when you arrive), you have a slight delay. You may have to wait in a short line (less than 5 minutes) or wait thirty seconds for the security guard to confirm there’s no bomb in your backpack or purse. This short delay is nothing to worry about, as long as it really is short. You wait five minutes for the slow elevator to rise, before clocking in. You spend a few minutes parking each day without pay. This is a normal part of phasing through office traffic. 

Short Wait at Every Break

For some workplaces, employees are required to have their bags checked on the way out of the building or department every time. So if you take a bag out for your break, you have to stop for a check. A quick stop on the way out is usually no concern. Again, if the bag check is about as time-consuming as an elevator, don’t worry about it.

However, if you’re actually being denied break time during the day and being made to stand for bag checks for most of your time off, this is not legally acceptable. You must have the freedom to tend to your own affairs or the break is not legally compliant.

Long Lines After Clock-Out Time

The most notorious bag check problems occur when employees must wait in long lines to enter or leave the building. Some people spend more than half an hour in line before they can clock in and after they clock out. waiting in the bag line. The bag check itself takes only a minute or two, but the line creates a serious burden on your schedule.

At this point, you need to assess whether the bag check is legally part of your job or is somehow defined as “Optional.”

Bag Carrying is Mandatory or Voluntary

Is your employer legally allowed to demand unpaid time for lengthy bag check delays? It depends on whether you can opt-out of the line. If the bag check is completely unavoidable, it is mandatory. If it is mandatory, it’s a work task. If it’s a work task, you must be paid for it.

A bag check is mandatory if:

If bringing in a bag is optional, find a way to opt-out. Get clever about pockets, storing things in the office,  and carrying things in not-bags under your arm. If your employer still makes you wait for an unpaid bag check when you don’t have a bag, it’s actually mandatory and needs to be paid.

Is your workplace bag check stealing your paycheck? Here at Aiman-Smith and Marcy, we are dedicated to defending employee rights down to the finest detail. Bag checks are being used to steal time from employees for the sake of employer security. If your bag check is mandatory and/or being used to prevent you from taking breaks, contact us today. Let us help you defend your employee rights and the rights of your coworkers who are also being mistreated with these policies.

Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986