Several Apple employees have accused the tech company of retaliation after they recently spoke out about issues of sexual harassment, workplace safety, and gender pay gaps.
Complaints filed by Apple employees Ashley Gjøvik and Cher Scarlett are being investigated by a U.S. labor board, and hundreds of Apple employees have since come forward over the AppleToo website, sharing stories of discrimination and harassment, with the goal of inciting change at the company.
Apple employees face alleged retaliation after filing complaints for harassment, workplace safety, and gender pay gaps
Former Apple employee Ashley Gjøvik was placed on administrative leave in August 2021 after she expressed concerns about a variety of issues, including workplace safety, sexual harassment, and a hostile work environment, reports Business Insider. Before being placed on leave, Gjøvik told Gizmodo that her job duties as a senior engineering program manager were reduced, and then eventually assigned to someone else. Gjøvik filed a formal complaint against the company with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), on August 26, 2021.
According to Bloomberg, a second complaint was filed on September 1, 2021, by engineer Cher Scarlett, alleging pay inequality, as well as workplace harassment and retaliation. Scarlett claims that Apple has repeatedly squashed employee attempts to discuss pay gaps, citing a recent incident where Apple had denied Scarlett’s request to start a Slack channel to discuss pay equity issues at the company, because they said it was “unrelated” to work. However, The Verge reports that Apple still allegedly allowed the creation of Slack channels to discuss topics like “dogs,” and “gaming,” leading many employees to believe that Apple was trying to suppress discussions about inequality and pay gaps. Under California labor laws, as well as many other state and federal labor laws, it’s unlawful for a company to prohibit or retaliate against its employees for asking about, or discussing, information related to wages.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Gjøvik said she “wants to pierce the veil of intimidation and secrecy,” because “employees are terrified to speak up about their concerns.” Both Gjøvik’s and Scarlett’s complaints are currently being reviewed by the National Labor Relations Board, reports Bloomberg.
Apple accused of preventing employees from conducting pay transparency surveys
Cher Scarlett, one of the employees who filed a formal complaint against the company, tweeted in August 2021 that Apple had shut down multiple employee attempts to conduct “pay transparency” surveys.
However, Scarlett was able to conduct a survey without it being taken down, and then posted the results and an early analysis of the data on Twitter. Only a small percentage of Apple employees opted to take the survey, but among those who did, there was around a 6% wage gap between male and female employees, as well as a gap between pay for white employees and employees of color. These potential findings stand in contrast with Apple’s announcement in 2016 that it had “closed the gender wage gap” for U.S. employees.
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#AppleToo: Employees speak out about inequity, discrimination, and coercion at Apple
Inspired by the #MeToo Movement, a group of Apple workers have joined together to share stories of workplace inequality, including patterns of racism, sexism, and intimidation, in an effort to “demand systemic change” at Apple. The group’s #AppleToo website claims that “for far too long, Apple has evaded public scrutiny,” with Black, Indigenous, and employees from other marginalized backgrounds being disproportionately impacted.
Since launching the #AppleToo website and hashtag, hundreds of Apple employees have come forward with their experiences of discrimination and harassment, says Bloomberg. Former Apple employee Timnit Gebru told The Verge that she experienced “so many egregious things” while working at Apple, adding that:
“I’m happy to see that Apple workers are organizing. It is past time for Apple to be held accountable.”
On September 3, 2021, the #AppleToo organizers posted an open letter to CEO Tim Cook and other executives, calling on them to re-investigate past complaints of discrimination, racism, and harassment.
Whether you choose to publicly share your story or not, you shouldn’t have to stand for discrimination in the workplace. Contact our employment attorneys to discuss your rights and options.