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Wages due for bag checks and security checks

What are Bag Checks?

What are bag checks? Bag checks is a common term for when employers perform searches on employees and their bags they bring to work. The bag checks vary in complexity.  In some bag checks, the employer only glances to see if bags are being brought out of the employer’s establishment.  Others, the employer does a more thorough search. In some cases, this search is manual going through purses, bags, pockets, coats, and the like to find stolen product or merchandise. In other cases, the employer may even set up Xray machines and security lines more akin to airport security lines. Often employers label such policies as anti-shrink or security policies. Where such protections go wrong is where the cost of the security measure is born by employees who are not paid wages for the time they comply with the employer’s security policies.  

Oregon Bag Check Wages…Employees Should Be Paid

Employers who require employees to submit to bag checks should pay for the employees time and inconvenience in going through the back checks.  Often bag checks are required of hourly employees who are being paid for their time to perform work for the employer. Just like time that employees perform what the employer designates as “work.”  Employees time is also required, and in fact, equally required, when the employer requires the employee to go through bag checks. It takes time to wait for management to check through your bags. It takes time to wait through security bag check lines to ensure that your bags are cleared by the employer. This time that the employee is required to give to the employer is no different in character than the time they perform what the employer considers to be work. Some employers choose to pay employees for bag checks, some do not provide wages for bag checks. Excuses for refusing to pay employees for bag checks vary by employer. Some reasons this happens is because the electronic time clocks are in the back of the employer’s business, other employers simply want to save money by not paying wages for this time. Thus, the employee is required to clock-out then walk through a bag check. It gets worse when either the manager is not immediately available to perform the bag check, or where lots of employees have to leave at the same time. This forces employees to wait around, off-the-clock, to assist the employer in its efforts to lower theft. This is important because when employees are off-the-clock, they are not being paid wages for their time.

The agreement between employers and employees, and the law regarding payment of wages, require employers to pay for all hours worked. Oregon goes further to define hours worked for purpose of wage payments for employees to include “both time worked and time of authorized attendance.” ORS 653.010. Key to understanding this definition is the phrase “authorized attendance.” To determine whether employees are due wages for the time spent in bag checks, the Court will need to determine whether the employee is “authorized” to attend during the bag security check. Our opinion is that when the employer requires the bag check, the employer authorizes the employee to attend during the bag check, and thus, the time spent during the security bag check is work time. Because the security bag check is work time, the employer must pay wages for the time the employee is required to attend the bag check. This work time includes the time that the employee is waiting around. Our opinion is supported by a recent ruling at the Oregon Court of Appeals regarding work time and wages. In Migis, the Oregon Court of Appeals found that the employer was required to pay wages for time spent on “personal tasks” because the employee was authorized to attend at work. Because employers often do not pay for this time as a way to lower their loss prevention costs, employees are placed in the position of filing a lawsuit to recover wages that should have been paid for the bag checks. 

What are Employer Security Checks?

What are employer security checks? Employer security check is a common term for when employers perform searches on employees and their bags they bring to work. These security searches can very significantly in their complexity.  In some security bag checks, the employer only performs a cursory search to see if bags are being brought out of the employer’s establishment.  In other employer security checks, the employer does a more thorough search. For instance, some employers manually go through purses, bags, pockets, and coats to find stolen product or merchandise. In other cases, the employer may even set up Xray machines and security lines more akin to airport security lines. Sometimes these searches result in long lines to leave the employer’s work site.

Oregon Security Check Wages

Employers requiring employees to submit to security checks before they leave work should pay wages for the time the employee spends in the security check. Sometimes employees have to wait very short periods of time for security to search through their purses, bags, pockets, coats, and the like to find stolen product or merchandise. Sometimes these security checks take a significant amount of time because either the security check line is very long or because an authorized person is not immediately available to perform the security check. How long the employee has to remain to have their security check performed is unimportant for the decision on whether wages must be paid for security checks. Some employers require the employee to bear the cost of the security check. Instead of paying wages for the employee’s time during the security check, these employers require the employee to be off-the-clock during the entire security check. This means the time the employee waits for the security check and the actual time they are in the security check is not paid.  However, generally employers are required to pay for all hours worked which should include time going through the security check. Oregon law goes further to define hours worked for purpose of wage payments for employees to include “both time worked and time of authorized attendance.” ORS 653.010. Key to understanding this definition is the phrase “authorized attendance.” To determine whether employees are due wages for the time spent in security checks, the Court will need to determine whether the employee is “authorized” to attend during the security check. Our opinion is that when the employer requires the security bag check, the employer authorizes the employee to attend during the security check, and thus, the time spent during the security bag check is work time. Because the security bag check is work time, the employer must pay wages for the time the employee is required to attend the bag check. This work time includes the time that the employee is waiting around to find someone to perform the security check or simply waiting in a line for its completion. Our opinion is supported by a recent ruling at the Oregon Court of Appeals regarding work time and wages. In Migis, the Oregon Court of Appeals found that the employer was required to pay wages for time spent on “personal tasks” because the employee was authorized to attend at work. Employers often do not pay for this time as a way to lower their loss prevention costs. It may seem like this is a small cost, but it is not. It may also seem like, and employers want you to believe this, that the time is too small to worry about your wages, but it is not.  

Wages for security bag checks add up to lots of money

On first blush, you might believe that a couple minutes per day spent in bag security checks are irrelevant, but they are not.  Even if it is just 3 minutes per bag security check, over a week’s time, bag security checks have cost you 15 minutes.  In one month, bag security checks have cost you an entire hour.  It gets worse if you have to submit for bag checks during your lunches. Then you lose two hours per month. Further, if sometimes you have to wait for the manager, or you wait in line to get your security bag check, then the time is even greater. The longer you work for the employer, the more time. Also, when you consider that all employees are being required to submit to these bag security checks, you realize the employer is saving even more. For instance, at two hours per month savings, with 500 employees, the employer saves a 1,000 hours of labor per month, or 12,000 hours of free labor per year.  At $15 per hour, the savings are almost $180,000 per year.  Now you can see why employers may attempt to place this burden on all its employees instead of paying the wages you are due. The more employees they have, the higher the wage rates, and the longer the average bag security checks take, the more the employer saves by stealing your time.

Employees may be thousands in penalties for unpaid bag check wages

There are significant penalties that employees may be due because their employer failed to pay wages for bag security checks. For instance, the non-payment of wages for bag security checks may cause the employee to be paid less than minimum wage. This may entitle the employee to a civil penalty under Oregon wage and hour laws. Minimum Wage. The Oregon minimum wage civil penalty can equal a maximum of 30 days of wages. The employee may also have worked overtime, and thus the bag security check wages were required to be paid at the overtime rate. In addition to the overtime wages due, the employee may be due an overtime civil penalty. Overtime Wage.  Finally, it may cause the employer to fail to pay all wages timely upon the ending of employment. Under ORS 652.140, an employer must pay all final wages at the end of employment within a specific time period depending upon how the employment ended. Late Pay. Like the minimum wage and overtime civil penalties, where an employer fails to pay final wages timely, the employee is due up to 30 days of penalty wages. The penalty wages are calculated by multiplying the regular hourly rate by 8 hours per day for up to 30 days. So an employee earning $15 per hour could receive up to $3,600 for the late payment wage claim under Oregon law.

Class Action Wage Claims for Large Groups of Employees Who were NOT Paid for Security Bag Checks

A class action lawsuit is one where one, or a few employees, sue an employer who has violated the wage laws in the same way for a large group of employees. When employers require large groups of employees to submit to security bag checks, but do not pay wages for their time, a class action may be appropriate. This means that a single employee can help themselves be paid for the time the employer’s security bag checks, obtain civil penalties and penalty wages for themselves, while also helping other employees recover their wages and penalties. Many employees fear losing their jobs so just accept the fact that the employer can make them wait for security bag checks without paying wages. By bringing a class action, any employee can be the hero and help other employees recover their wages. It also makes the lawsuit very big. Even large employers take notice when hundreds of employees band together to force their compliance with the wage laws. Bag check security wages may be a good case for class actions because often the employees all are subject to the same employer policies and results in unpaid wages in the same way.  The Oregon wage claim attorneys (lawyers) at Schuck Law focus their law practice on wage claim lawsuits, electronic time clocks lawsuits, bag and security check case, and class actions. Our lawyers also prosecute minimum wage, overtime, and late pay claims based upon security checks. In addition to the claims for damages outlined above, an employee may also sue to recover their costs, disbursements, and attorney fees incurred in prosecution of the electronic time clock alteration wage claim lawsuits. This allows the Oregon wage claim attorneys at Schuck Law, LLC to take most Oregon bag check and security check wage claim lawsuits on a contingency fee basis. This means, with minor exceptions that are within your control, that our Oregon wage claim attorneys only get paid their attorney fees if they recover wages or penalty wages for you.

Oregon Wage Claim Attorneys

The Oregon wage claim attorneys (lawyers) at Schuck Law, LLC focus their law practice on wage claim lawsuits. Our Oregon wage claim attorneys regularly prosecute Oregon wage claim lawsuits. This includes cases where the employer requires the employee to submit to security bag checks off-the-clock to avoid payment of wages to the employees. Our lawyers also prosecute minimum wage, overtime, and late pay claims based security bag checks.  In addition to the claims for damages outlined above, an employee may also sue to recover their costs, disbursements, and attorney fees incurred in prosecution of the wage claim lawsuit. This allows the Oregon wage claim attorneys at Schuck Law, LLC to take most Oregon wage claim lawsuits on a contingency fee basis. This means, with minor exceptions that are within your control, that our Oregon wage claim attorneys only get paid their attorney fees if they recover wages or penalty wages for you.

Our Oregon wage claim attorneys (lawyers) prosecute wage claims for employees required to submit to bag checks.  Our lawyers also sue for minimum wages, overtime wages, late final paychecks, and class action wage claims throughout Oregon, including but not limited to, Portland, Astoria, Beaverton, Portland, Bend, Clackamas, Coos Bay, Grants Pass, Hillsboro, Portland, Hood River, Klamath Falls, Lake Oswego, Oregon City, Portland, Madras, McMinnville, Medford, Milwaukie, Portland,  Newberg, Oregon City, Portland, Sandy, St. Helens, Portland, Tillamook, and West Linn.

Google By David Schuck