Another Apple Worker Says the Company Retaliated Against Her

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One of the leaders of an activistic question astatine Apple took her ailment to a national agency, marking an escalation of a struggle betwixt Apple and immoderate of its workers.

Apple’s office  successful  Cupertino, Calif.
Credit...Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Kellen Browning

Nov. 2, 2021, 2:38 p.m. ET

Apple and its activistic employees person edged toward unfastened confrontation successful caller months, arsenic workers person gone nationalist with criticisms of however the institution treats them and person prodded national agencies to investigate.

On Tuesday, that struggle escalated arsenic 1 of the leaders of an activistic question astatine the company, who said she had been fired successful October, said successful a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board that Apple had retaliated against her.

Janneke Parrish, a erstwhile Apple Maps programme manager, accused Apple and Tim Cook, Apple’s main executive, of violating national labour instrumentality by firing her successful retaliation for forming the worker group, known arsenic #AppleToo.

Ms. Parrish’s complaint, successful a ineligible filing with the N.L.R.B., is the latest successful a bid made by Apple employees. One erstwhile Apple employee, Ashley Gjovik, has made astatine slightest 10 complaints to authorities and national agencies claiming misconduct by her erstwhile employer. Cher Scarlett, different person of #AppleToo, has been connected permission and has been talking to national regulators astir whether Apple prohibits its workers from speaking out.

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Credit...Robert Howell

The confrontation with employees has been a astonishing crook astatine Apple, which has agelong had a estimation for a buttoned-up, top-down culture. While different large tech companies similar Google person agelong dealt with idiosyncratic unrest, Apple had until precocious mostly avoided specified conflicts.

A communal taxable among the Apple workers’ complaints is that the company’s secrecy and assertive efforts to debar leaks astir caller products person permeated the remainder of its firm culture, causing a chilling effect that discourages radical from talking astir wages, favoritism and workplace harassment.

Now the workers who person spoken retired accidental they person been punished for it. Ms. Parrish said successful her ailment to the N.L.R.B. that Apple had fired her to “nip successful the bud” her organizing efforts.

“I bash judge that Apple retaliated against maine for speaking out,” Ms. Parrish said successful an interview. She said she wanted to marque wide to Apple “that retaliating against workers for speaking retired astatine what they spot arsenic injustice is not an acceptable response.”

Apple has disputed the charges made by the employees.

Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s quality resources chief, told employees successful a September gathering viewed by The New York Times that the institution tracks wage and closes wage disparities whenever they are found. And Tim Cook, Apple’s main executive, framed the speech arsenic a conflict implicit rooting retired radical who leak institution information.

“As you know, we bash not tolerate disclosures of confidential information, whether it’s merchandise I.P. oregon the details of a confidential meeting,” Mr. Cook wrote successful a September memo to employees that was viewed by The Times and was reported earlier by The Verge. “We cognize that the leakers represent a tiny fig of people. We besides cognize that radical who leak confidential accusation bash not beryllium here.”

An Apple spokesperson connected Tuesday reiterated a erstwhile remark the institution had shared astir worker activism, saying that Apple was “deeply committed to creating and maintaining a affirmative and inclusive workplace” and investigating concerns. The institution said it did not remark connected circumstantial employees.

Apple has successful the past faced isolated cases of idiosyncratic discontent. Last year, Kate Rotondo, a erstwhile bundle engineer, filed and aboriginal retracted a ailment with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming sex favoritism and unequal pay.

Barbara Dawn Underwood, an Apple retail store worker successful Georgia, sued Apple for $1.7 million, accusing the institution of failing to halt a co-worker from sexually harassing and assaulting her and past retaliating by firing her portion she was trying to instrumentality to enactment aft taking leave. Apple has asked for the case, filed successful a Georgia national court, to beryllium dismissed, and Ms. Underwood is waiting to spot if she tin proceed.

Recently, the complaints person escalated into #AppleToo. Led by Ms. Parrish and Ms. Scarlett, a information engineer, the question grew from a radical of employees arguing this summertime against returning to carnal bureau spaces into a broader referendum connected Apple’s culture. Ms. Parrish, before she was fired successful October, collected much than 500 stories from radical who said they were existent oregon erstwhile Apple employees, describing verbal abuse, intersexual harassment, retaliation and favoritism astatine work.

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Credit...Kyle Johnson for The New York Times

Ms. Parrish said Apple told her she had been fired for deleting files from her institution machine and telephone earlier handing them implicit to beryllium examined portion the institution investigated whether she had leaked the signaling of an Apple gathering to media outlets.

With Ms. Parrish gone, Ms. Scarlett, who returned to enactment Tuesday, has continued to nonstop employees to media outlets and labour agencies, but she said immoderate person been frightened off. “There’s thing muted astir it now,” she said. “People don’t privation to beryllium targeted by executives for retaliatory investigations erstwhile they’ve done thing wrong.”

For immoderate Apple workers, Ms. Gjovik, an outspoken erstwhile employee, has been a rallying point. Ms. Gjovik, who was a elder engineering programme manager, began speaking retired successful March astir concerns that an Apple bureau successful Sunnyvale, Calif., was built connected oregon adjacent a Superfund site and was being tested successful narration to concerns astir the site.

She yet escalated concerns to a institution biology wellness team, complained to the Environmental Protection Agency and aboriginal went nationalist to quality organizations and connected societal media aft being told not to talk with different Apple employees. She said she was placed connected permission successful August and fired successful September for leaking confidential information, which she disputes.

Ms. Gjovik has since complained to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the N.L.R.B. and the California Department of Industrial Relations, which told her successful precocious October that it would delegate her lawsuit to an investigator.

Matthew Bodie, a instrumentality prof and erstwhile tract lawyer astatine the N.L.R.B., said the labour committee would apt look astatine however realistic it was that Apple was motivated to occurrence an worker due to the fact that it was disquieted astir commercialized secrets.

“A institution is surely escaped to say, ‘We’re having a confidential gathering astir a caller merchandise improvement and we don’t privation it leaked out,’” Mr. Bodie said. “But butting up against that is this thought that employees should beryllium escaped to speech to 1 different astir what’s going connected astatine the company.”

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