Report: Apple Ignored and Retaliated Against Employees’ Complaining of Misconduct and Sexual Assault

Apple Retaliation

A report by The Financial Times has been released about Apple’s toxic culture of apathy and retaliation against employees’ serious complaints of colleague and employer misconduct, including reports of sexual assault. In a company that boasts of its inclusiveness and its boost in diversity, these allegations cast a shadow on the company. 

Multiple women have filed complaints of sexual abuse, bullying and other misconduct. Former employee Megan Mohr complained of a colleague removing her clothes while asleep and taking pictures of her during a platonic night out. In response, Apple HR described the allegations as “reprehensible” and “potentially criminal,” however because the employee did not violate Apple policy, nothing was done in response to Mohr’s complaint. 

Another complaint involved an Apple Store employee complaining about two instances of sexual assault including rape. Instead of listening to her complaints, HR treated her as the problem saying that after the accused individual returned from a 6 month “career experience,” she should be feeling better by the time he returned. After she was denied a transfer request, she was left continuing work at the same store as the accused. 

Another instance of HR ignoring its employees’ concerns was when an Apple IP attorney complained of a “toxic work environment” and “gaslighting” coming from a male vice-president who intended to fire her with false allegations that predated her arrival at Apple. HR reportedly ignored her allegations. 

The report also lists several employees complaining of Apple suppressing worker organizing and blocking message boards used by employees to make complaints of management misconduct and pay inequity. Apple retaliated against one software engineer, Cher Scarlett, after complaining to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and had been offered a severance demanding she turn in the NLRB complaint that list other employees’ names. She only accepted after Apple withdrew the demand, but she was forced to pull the complaint. However, after Apple said “it supports employees’ rights to freely speak” to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Scarlett leaked her complaint to the media which led to eight US state treasurers to ask the SEC to investigate Apple. 

A director in the legal department, Jayne Whitt, was reported to have told HR about a colleague who hacked her devices and threatened her life. Instead of taking it seriously, the investigative unit said she acted unprofessionally during their meeting during a time when Whitt was begging for help and reliving trauma. As a result, Whitt posted an essay describing the situation, which prompted an outpour of Apple employees’ support. However, Apple went on to fire her for an irrelevant six-year-old indiscretion, and Whitt now challenges Apple legally after she opened her eyes to the struggle of women in the company—especially with gender-pay disparity

Apple claims it thoroughly investigates misconduct allegations and strives to create an environment open to reporting from employees. However, Apple acknowledged its unmet ideals in some accounts, including those reported by The Financial Times, and admits these complaints should have been handled differently. Apple claims it will accordingly make changes to training and processes.

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NYC Bar Sweet & Vicious Owner Pays $500K To Staff In Sexual Harassment Case

NYC Bar Sweet & Vicious Owner Pays $500K To Staff In Sexual Harassment Case

The owner of Sweet & Vicious, a Manhattan-based bar, has agreed to pay a $500,000 settlement after sexually harassing and demeaning female and minority employees. According to filings made by New York Attorney General Letita James, Hakan Karamahmutoglu allegedly used sexist slurs such as “b–hes” and “cows,” he stole their tips, and allowed male managers and customers to threaten, and physically harass female staff.

The investigation of the allegations went on for 16 months and has concluded in a settlement to be split between 16 current and former workers.

The probe uncovered a hostile work culture where management turned their backs on customers harassing and physical threatening female bartenders. Management allowed customers to threaten stabbing, rape, physical assault, and allowed them to throw glasses at the women.

Investigations also revealed male managers being allowed to sexually harass the women. One male manger kissed and rubbed his body against one of the women and in another incident a manager made a sexual remark about a worker’s underwear.

During Interviews, the women told of the owner making harassing comments, touching and grabbing the employees, saying “I’m the owner, I can do what I want.” Additionally, he would use derogatory language in reference to the women and minority employees, saying things like “gangster” in reference to the black security guards, and calling a Puerto Rican manager a “terrorist” and “Puerto Rican trash.” He also told a female bartender “I like your fat black ass” and used homophobic slurs.

To make matters worse, the women were also made to work overtime without pay, their tips were stolen, and were denied meal and rest breaks. When a drunk customer threw a glass at a bartender’s head, the managers turned their backs. Anytime the women would raise concerns about the unsafe work environment, they were ignored.

In a press conference the women expressed how Hakan and the rest of management at the bar created a racist, sexist, and homophobic environment. One of them stated they were glad to hold the bar accountable and hoped it would discourage other like-minded employers in the industry from subjecting employees to similar harassment.

Karamahmutoglu denied all allegations saying they are untrue and do not reflect his character, stating that he only signed the agreement to bring closure to the whole thing. Along with the settlement, the company agreed to strengthen anti-sexual harassment and discrimination policies and be periodically monitored by the AG’s office.

The hospitality industry is riddled with a culture of unreported sexual harassment and discrimination. State law protects workers’ right to work in an environment free of sexual harassment, and the food service industry is no exception and cannot go unchecked.

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Sexual Harassment Complaints Ignored by Walgreens For a Year Leads to Murder of Teenager

Sexual Harassment Complaints Ignored by Walgreens For a Year Leads to Murder of Teenager

A teenager who was found dead at a Colorado Springs Walgreens had allegedly made sexual harassment complaints about the man now accused in her death about a year before her death.

According to arrest papers, 16-year-old Riley Whitelaw had verbally complained to store managers in 2021 about coworker Joshua Johnson’s unwanted sexual advances towards her and how he made her uncomfortable.

One year after her sexual harassment complaint, Riley is found dead in the break room of the Walgreens she worked at.  Johnson was taken into custody on charges of first-degree murder.

The arrest reports describe officers having found Riley’s body bloodied with neck injuries and no signs of life on the floor of the break room. Surveillance video showed Johnson stacking bins in front of the surveillance camera. The break room windows were also found taped over and the restroom-closed sign was in the area to keep people away. Riley’s body was found by the manager after he had viewed the surveillance. Johnson was arrested by state troopers the following day outside the city when they spotted him on the side of the interstate covered in cuts and bruises. He gave a story of being attacked at a Walgreens in Colorado Springs. When the troopers checked with Colorado Springs PD, they learned he was a suspect and was transported back to Colorado Springs where he’s being held without bond at El Paso County Jail.

In an interview, Johnson claims he went in the break room and fell in the blood and went home to change his clothes. He denied obstructing the camera and allegedly acknowledged having a crush on Riley at one point but then losing interest. 

Police interviews state otherwise. One of the managers reported that Riley had asked for a schedule change to avoid Johnson and was showing signs of jealousy when Riley’s boyfriend started working.

Sexual harassment is prohibited under California and federal law. It is illegal for employers to allow anyone to be sexually harassed at work. 

This is another reason why employers need to take immediate and strong corrective action when sexual harassment complaints are made.  Had Riley’s complaints been taken seriously, she may still be alive.

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Wage and Hour Violations – Case Example

Wage and Hour Case Example

Cecil was one of several employees misclassified as exempt from overtime by her employer. California’s Labor Code only allows select professionals, managers, and administrators to be exempt from overtime pay and breaks.    

Cecil’s employer intentionally misclassified her and her coworkers as exempt to avoid paying them anything for overtime worked.  Cecil and her co-workers regularly worked dozens of hours a week of overtime for no pay whatsoever.  

Further, Cecil’s employer failed to provide duty-free meal and rest periods and failed to pay one additional hour of pay for each duty-free meal or rest period that was not provided in accordance with California law.

We helped Cecil and her co-workers get a substantial settlement. 

If you believe you have been misclassified as an exempt employee and not paid overtime, our firm may be able to get you justice too. Give us a call at 310-400-5891 for your free intake.

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Midyear 2022 Minimum Wage Increases Starting July 1st

Midyear 2022 Minimum Wage Increases Starting July 1st

This summer, several states and many local jurisdictions will increase their minimum wage rates. Starting July 1, 2022, states including Connecticut, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington DC will increase their minimum wage. Locally, several cities and counties are also increasing their minimum wage effective July 1, 2022.

In California, there will be numerous minimum wage rate adjustments across several cities and counties.

Californians will see increases in minimum wage for the following jurisdictions:

· Alameda: $15.75

· Berkeley: $16.99

· Emeryville: $17.68

· Fremont: $16.00

· Long Beach (hotels with 100 or more guest rooms): $16.73

· Los Angeles City: $16.04

· Los Angeles City (hotels with 150 or more guest rooms): $18.17

· Unincorporated Los Angeles County: $15.96

· Malibu: $15.96

· Milpitas: $16.40

· Pasadena: $16.11

· San Francisco: $16.99

· Santa Monica: $15.96

· Santa Monica (hotels): $18.17

· West Hollywood (1–49 employees): $16.00

· West Hollywood (50 or more employees): $16.50

· West Hollywood (hotel workers): $18.35

Accordingly, employers with minimum wage workers must ensure their compensation practices are compliant with these changing laws in all jurisdictions in which they operate.

If you are not being paid properly, don’t get breaks or meal periods, haven’t been paid for overtime, have been retaliated against / terminated for complaining about wage & hour violations, or any other employment law violations, call us at 310-400-5891, for your free intake.

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SNL Cast Members Named As Alleged Witnesses To Sexual Assault In Newest Statement By Victim

SNL Sexual Assault Case

The Jane Doe plaintiff suing NBC and Horatio Sanz in a sexual assault case has made a new statement where she named several Saturday Night Live cast members as alleged witnesses to Sanz’s sexual assault of her. Amongst the named witnesses in the statement are Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, and Seth Meyers.

Jane Doe sued NBC and Sanz summer of 2021 alleging that Sanz had groomed her since she was 15 years old and he had groped her at a 2002 SNL afterparty. Doe was 17 years old at the time of the alleged assault. Doe recently made a statement in which she claimed that several cast members were within eyesight of the assault incident at the party.

Sanz had allegedly groped Doe in full view of his colleagues. Doe states that she and Ana Gasteyer made eye contact while Sanz groped her and Gasteyer was visibly startled in response. She also states that she saw Fey and Dratch looking at Sanz and Doe and were also visibly startled. Also named in her statement were Seth Meyers and Maya Rudolph who were facing them and Doe describes Rudolph looking disgusted.

In the statement, Doe states that she expressed her discomfort and desire to leave to Sanz but was dismissed by him despite the stares.

NBC denies liability for Sanz’s behavior, in their support of the company’s motion to dismiss the complaint. Sanz’s attorney also issued a denial last year, describing Doe’s allegations as false and claiming that Doe repeats her allegations and ropes in high-profile names to generate media attention.

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Amazon Accused of Systemic Disability Discrimination by New York State Agency

Amazon Disability Discrimination

The New York State Division of Human Rights has accused Amazon of discriminating against pregnant and disabled workers at its worksites.

A complaint was filed by the Agency claiming that Amazon has policies requiring workers to take unpaid leaves of absences even if they are capable of working, instead of providing reasonable accommodations.

The complaint blames Amazon for allowing worksite managers to ignore in-house accommodation consultants who recommend providing modified schedules or job responsibilities.

As per state law, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled workers who request them. “Disability” under California law is defined very broadly and can include many temporary medical conditions that can cause people to need time off or changes to their work duties. This includes employees with pregnancy-related medical conditions, which can also be considered disabilities.

In the complaint, Amazon is described to have forced one pregnant worker to continue lifting 25 pounds and put her on indefinite unpaid leave after she got injured. Additionally, it describes Amazon reversing recommendations to modify work schedules for two disabled employees, after the managers resisted the change.

The complaint seeks unspecified civil fines and penalties, which can go up to $50,000 for violations, or $100,000 for willful conduct. The complaint also calls for improved training and new policies for review of requests for reasonable accommodations.

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LAPD Lieutenant wins $4.4 Million in Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

LAPD Lieutenant Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Veteran LAPD Lieutenant, Lou Vince, has been awarded $4.37 million by a jury in a disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles. Vince claimed a supervisor minimized his back issues and that the department had ignored his accommodation requests for light duty to heal.

Before the incidents that lead to Vince filing against the city, Vince had no problems supervisors and had numerous accolades and promotions throughout his career.

In 2008, Vince suffered back injuries as a patrol officer, and shortly after promoting to lieutenant, he underwent spinal fusion surgery in 2015. Upon his return, Vince had medical work restrictions to allow his back to heal. Instead of accommodating Vince’s medical restrictions, his boss was not happy and insisted Vince have them lifted. Vince complied but was unable to work with his full duty belt because of ongoing back problems. Vince was never given a light-duty position as he requested.

When Vince made a disability discrimination complaint, he was then retaliated against with station transfers and job reassignments.

In April 2018, Vince filed a lawsuit alleging disability discrimination, failure to reasonably accommodate and failure to engage in the interactive process. The City Attorney’s Office argued that the LAPD had non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory reasons behind every action against Vince and denied he was retaliated against for complaining.

It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for making a legally protected complaint to management, HR, or the DFEH / EEOC. Moreover, employers are required to reasonably accommodate employees with a disability or medical condition.

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Pregnancy Medical Leave – Case Example

Pregnancy Discrimination Case Example

Vero is a young woman who experienced shocking pregnancy and disability discrimination at work. When she went on a temporary disability leave due to pregnancy complications, she was written up for falling behind on her work while on leave!

To add insult to injury, Vero’s employer ordered her to work overtime to make up for the disability time she missed, when her medical condition would not allow her to. The overtime forced on her made her medical condition worse!

Vero then complained in writing that her being written up for missing time off of work was retaliation and complained to the DFEH. One month later she was fired while she still had 9 days left on her disability leave note and 40 days before she was supposed to give birth.

We obtained justice for Vero for her employer’s despicable and outrageous wrongful termination.

If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, retaliated, or discriminated against based on a protected category such as pregnancy, disability or medical condition, give us a call at 310-400-5891 for your free consultation.

Learn more about Disability Leave / Medical Leave Law

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U.K. Court Rules Term “Bald” is Form of Sexual Harassment

U.K. Court Rules Term “Bald” is Form of Sexual Harassment

A panel of three judges in the U.K. have ruled that insulting a man for being bald in the workplace can be a form of sexual harassment. 

The tribunal, who are all balding themselves, argued that because hair loss is far more prevalent in the male sex than female, the term is then inherently related to sex/gender. So a comment on a man’s hair loss is equivalent to commenting on a woman’s breasts.

This ruling came about in a case of an electrician, Tony Finn, who sued a West Yorkshire-based small business over the use of the term “bald” after one of his supervisors allegedly called him a “fat bald c—” and was later fired.

The judges were then left to deliberate on whether the “bald” comment was simply insulting or if it meets the criteria to be considered harassment. They connected “bald” to the protected characteristic of sex and found it inherently related to sex. And argued that while both men and women bald, baldness is more prevalent in men than women.  With this they stated that men like Finn would be most likely to be receiving such a comment.

The finding also added that the remark was degrading and humiliating. Though strong language is common on West Yorkshire factory floors, it was judged that the remark crossed a line by making a personal attack on Finn’s appearance. Therefore, the comment was made with the purpose of violating Finn’s dignity and creating a hostile work environment.

The tribunal upheld the sexual harassment claim and ruled the company unfairly terminated him after 24 years of employment.

Remember, this was one court in England.  Under California and U.S. law, gender based or sexual harassment has to be either “severe or pervasive”.  So, under American law, a one-time comment of “bald” is extremely unlikely to be “severe” enough to be actionable sexual harassment.

What do you think of the U.K. Court’s reasoning?

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