In 2020, the California Supreme Court found that Apple was violating fair labor laws by requiring employees to wait for bag checks before leaving the premises. It was ruled that because the checks were primarily for Apple’s benefit and were met with disciplinary action when skipped, this bag checking legally constituted a timef in which employees were under Apple’s control and therefore had a right to minimum wage or greater.

However, the way the Supreme Court ruled over this issue opened the door to pay for many other mandatory off-the-clock activities being forced on non-exempt California workers. Are you or someone you know being subjected to work activities that are unpaid because – officially – they happen before or after your scheduled shift? If so, you may have a right to legal action and even back pay for mandatory hours that have gone uncompensated.


The FLSA and Employer-Controlled Time

According to the California Fair Labor Standards Act, employers are responsible for compensating their non-exempt (non-salaried) team members for any time when employees are under employer control. This standard was put into place to protect on-call shifts, irregular hours, and other abusive time-controlling policies that have been popular in the recent past.

Essentially, if an employer is preventing you from using your time for your own purposes, they are in control and therefore must pay for that time – whether or not you are performing profitable work for the company. The standards also relate to whether that time is spent on-premises and whether the off-the-clock activities primarily benefit the employee or employer.


Examples of Potentially Unpaid Mandatory Activities

Unpaid mandatory activities most often occur before or after clocking out and during clocked break times. These are activities that are functionally or even explicitly required by your employer but are considered off-the-clock activities to be done off of paid shift hours.


Optional or Mandatory?

Apple argued that bringing a bag was optional, so employees could choose whether to participate in the bag-check. Those who did not bring bags or personal items would not be checked. The lower court found that the check was optional, and therefore not mandatory. However, the new standards draw a line based on just how mandatory the task really is.

For example, many people must bring personal items for medical and unavoidable reasons. Some may even be required by their job description to carry a bag with both personal and professional supplies. Avoiding or failing to wait for a bag check was also met with disciplinary action, pushing the line over to a mandatory work activity.


Employer or Employee Benefit?

Cui bono? Who is the party that benefits from the activity? Apple argued that employees taking a parking lot shuttle were on their own time because the shuttle primarily benefited the employees, and was optional. However, the bag checks did not benefit the employees. The purpose of the bag checks was primarily and almost entirely forApple’s loss prevention program.

The privilege to bring a bag was not considered enough of a benefit to justify every bag-carrier to be subjected to a mandatory search and wait each time they left the premises.


In Control of Your Own Time

The California Supreme Court ruled that Apple was in control of employee time during bag check wait times and the checks themselves. Because the check happened both on -premises and disciplinary action was taken if employees did not wait the time for each check, it was deemed a work activity where employees were not in control of their time. 

Apple argued the grey line between personal and work time, like your daily commute or time on the parking shuttle. For this, you need only apply a practical personal-time test. Does the time belong to you or your employer?

The ‘Personal Time’ Test

Are you on the clock? There are two practical-example tests you can run mentally to determine if you should or should not be paid for your time spent on work premises or conducting work activities.

Could you, if off of work premises, be attending a child’s birthday party? Even remotely via Skype or FaceTime? Could you make that commitment and expect to be  available because you are off-the-clock? Could you spend that time on an energetic personal phone call as you could while on break or the commute home? If neither is true, your employer may still be ‘in control’ of your time.


Disciplinary Measures

The final test is whether employees can face consequences for not doing the activity. You may have noticed that this single element plays a role throughout the Supreme Court’s decision against Apple and the theme of the new time compensation standards.

The key element was that Apple disciplined employees who brought bags and did not submit to whatever time security checks required. Employees who must bring bags for personal or even professional reasons were therefore required. 


If you are being subjected to work activities without pay, you have rights to freedom, backpay, or both. Here at Aiman-Smith & Marcy, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of employees from the many little ways they can be chipped away or denied outright. Contact us today to consult on your unpaid work situation and discover how we can help.

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