Tech giant accused of retaliation, mishandling misconduct allegations
A scathing report from Financial Times cites more than a dozen current and former female employees accusing Apple’s HR department of mishandling misconduct allegations.
More than half claim the Cupertino, CA-based company retaliated against them for complaining to Apple’s People team. In six instances, women said voicing their complaints earned them a reputation as “bad team members,” resulting in their departures. In three cases, the tech giant allegedly offered a form of severance in exchange for these women to not hold the company liable.
Read more: #MeToo’s impact on sexual harassment in the workplace
For example, Orit Mizrachi, a former legal administrative assistant at Apple, said she went to HR twice: after being allegedly “bullied and harassed” by her manager after taking leave to be with her dying father, and after a colleague allegedly repeatedly sent her “sexual” texts.
Mizrachi claims that HR “shrugged and put it under the rug” before she was later laid off due to headcount reduction. According to Financial Times, Apple offered her three months of salary, including a lump-sum payment “for alleged emotional distress,” in exchange for agreeing she would “fully and completely release, discharge and agree to hold harmless Apple . . . from all claims, judgments and liabilities.”
In response to the report, Apple told the Financial Times that the company strives to create “an environment where employees feel comfortable reporting any issues.” “There are some accounts raised that do not reflect our intentions or our policies and we should have handled them differently, including certain exchanges reported in this story,” Apple said. “As a result, we will make changes to our training and processes.”
Last summer, a group of employees launched #AppleToo, a campaign to gather and share current and past employees’ experiences of abuse, intimidation and inequity, The Guardian reported. “For too long, Apple has evaded public scrutiny,” the workers said in a public statement. “When we press for accountability and redress to the persistent injustices we witness or experience in our workplace, we are faced with a pattern of isolation, degradation and gaslighting.”
A month later, The New York Times reported that more than 500 current and former Apple employees submitted accounts of misconduct, including verbal abuse, sexual harassment, retaliation and discrimination, to the employee-activist group.
In November 2021, a former Apple employee who helped organize the #AppleToo movement filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board that she believes she was fired in retaliation for her efforts. Janneke Parrish, former program manager at Apple, alleges that she was terminated "for daring to disturb Apple's universe," according to the legal filing.
“Specifically, Parrish spoke up regarding her personal experiences regarding workplace concerns and helped give voice to her co-workers' concerns in a workplace where such issues have been systemically siloed, suppressed and unaddressed,” according to the filing, which CNN Business obtained.
Last December, The Verge published an expose on Apple’s company culture, interviewing 16 current and former employees in retail, support and sales departments. Frontline workers, such as those in the company’s retail stores and support call centers, claimed that conditions have been so poor that workers have struggled to pay rent.
Apple has more than 165,000 employees around the world.