IT workers at Apple are subject to conditions resembling indentured servitude and, in violation of California state law, are denied required overtime pay and meal benefits, a lawsuit filed Monday against the computer maker alleges.
David Walsh, who worked as a network engineer at Apple from 1995 until last year, was routinely forced to work more than 40 hours per week, missed meals, and often had to spend evenings and entire weekends on call without receiving an extra dollar of pay, according to the suit.
During his on-call hours, Walsh "was required to remain on stand-by for the entire night, every night of the week, for the entire week without compensation," contends the suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for Southern California.
"After working an entire workday on the Friday of the rotation, [Walsh] was required to remain on call twenty-four hours a day from Friday evening until Monday morning, when he would report to the employer's work site for his 'regular' workday without compensation," the complaint continues.
"The technical support calls often came in past 11:00 o'clock at night," disrupting Walsh's sleep, according to the suit.
Walsh's attorneys contend that he, and other Apple IT workers, were purposefully misclassified as management by the company so it could avoid paying them overtime rates that California legally requires for nonmanagement personnel and also to avoid lawsuits.
Apple "intentionally and deliberately created numerous job levels and a multitude of job titles ... to create a roadblock to discovery and class certification for all employees similarly classified as exempt," court papers say.
The attorneys are asking the judge to grant class status to all of Apple's California IT workers, including those who are dispatched to perform support functions at Apple retail stores.
If successful, the suit could cost Apple big bucks. IBM was forced to shell out $65 million in 2006 to settle a similar case brought on behalf of 32,000 tech workers at the company.
Walsh is seeking unspecified damages from Apple. The company has yet to file a formal response to the complaint.