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.

Learn More About Whistleblower Law / How to Report Sexual Harassment at Work?

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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.

Learn More About Wage and Hour Law

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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.

Learn More About Wage and Hour Law

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US Soccer Makes Landmark Deal to Pay Men’s and Women’s National Teams Equally

US Soccer Makes Landmark Deal to Pay Men’s and Women’s National Teams Equally

After a group of top women’s players sued U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination in 2019, US Soccer has announced that they will have new contracts that will pay both women’s and men’s teams equally. This landmark decision will also include splitting World Cup prize money. 

These collective bargaining agreements were made after a decades-long fight by the U.S Women’s National Team (USWNT) for equal pay and fair treatment. 

The women’s national team has been recognized as U.S. Soccer’s most successful team, winning 4 Olympic gold medals and more World Cups than any other country. Contentions over the gender pay gap grew after the women’s consecutive World Cup championships in 2015 and 2019, while the men’s team failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament. 

In 2019, top women’s players sued U.S. Soccer for inequalities in treatment and pay, and won the lawsuit. U.S. Soccer agreed to pay $24 million to settle once a new Collective Bargaining Agreement was made.

As part of the latest bargaining deal, the USWNT will get $7.2 million in this year’s pool and includes a 68 percent increase to $120,000 for what players can earn in this summer’s World Cup qualifying tournament. These agreements run through 2028 and covers two World Cup cycles. 

Unlike the vast disparities in past distributions of FIFA’s prize money, under the new deals, U.S. Soccer will put 90 percent of the prize money from both the men’s and women’s World Cups into a pool for players to split. This is a groundbreaking move for U.S. Soccer as no other federation has gone as far as splitting World Cup prize money. 

Also included under the deals:

1/ U.S. Soccer will share commercial revenues with the players; 

2/ Both Men’s and Women’s games will be played on similar surfaces (grass or turf);

3/ Travel budgets will be comparable and both teams will have equal number of charter flights;

4/ U.S. Soccer agreed to establish protections to prevent harassment and other misconduct such as ability to anonymously report abuse.  More than a half-dozen players accused U.S. Soccer of willful inaction following abuse by coaches;

5/ Expanding parental benefits like childcare to not only USWNT but also for USMNT.

Now that new collective bargaining agreements have been made, the 2019 settlement can be finalized. With the decades long fight now settled, all that is left for the USWNT is to focus on the World Cup!

In many places, including under California law, paying less to one gender for the same work is illegal.  The movement towards gender pay equity is here to stay.  But, for the most part, men and women’s professional sports have not been considered equal.  Think NBA vs. WNBA.  Do you think this precedent will change pay practices in other women’s professional sports?

Learn More About Gender Discrimination / Wage and Hour Law

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LinkedIn Paying $1.8 million in Gender Pay Discrimination Case

LinkedIn to pay $1.8 Million in Pay Discrimination Settlement

As part of a settlement in a gender-based pay discrimination case, LinkedIn is set to pay $1.8 million in back wages to approximately 700 female employees.

The U.S. Labor Department investigators had made a pay discrimination complaint against LinkedIn, the career-networking platform, after a routine compliance evaluation found that from March 2015 to March 2017, LinkedIn failed to comply with equal pay law. The employer had been underpaying about 700 female workers in its San Francisco and Sunnyvale, California offices. The affected women were being paid less than men in comparable job roles in its Engineering, Product, and Marketing Departments.

Though LinkedIn has agreed to settle, the company denies the government’s claims of pay discrimination and insists that their models didn’t identify pay disparities, stating that LinkedIn has paid employees fairly and equitably. LinkedIn officials quote a pay study conducted in 2021 that found female employees earning $.99 for every $1 earned by a male employee, and that in the U.S., employees of color earned the same as White employees.

However, the Labor Department’s analysis found significant pay disparities. Federal laws ban any discriminatory pay practices especially in companies like LinkedIn that contracts with the government. As part of the settlement, LinkedIn is expected to pay $1.8 million in back pay and interest to resolve the violations.

The breakdown will be as follows:
• Sunnyvale Engineering: $719,592 in back pay plus $13,120 in interest
• Sunnyvale Product: $370,974.00 in back pay plus $13,120.00 in interest.
• San Francisco Engineering: $232,448.00 in back pay plus $13,120.00 in interest.
• San Francisco Marketing: $424,506.00 in back pay and $13,120.00 in interest.

LinkedIn also agreed to host a staff-training program to ensure compliance with non-discrimination policy and will evaluate that staff salaries are gender neutral for the next 3 years and make salary adjustments accordingly. LinkedIn will also revise its compensation policies and allow reporting to guarantee compliance with federal contract obligations. The Labor Department hopes these changes ensure LinkedIn understands its obligations as a federal contractor.

In addition to these federal laws, California has strict gender pay equity laws that requires women be paid the same as men for equal work.

Learn More About Gender Discrimination / Wage and Hour Law

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President Biden Signs Executive Order to Narrow the Gender Pay Gap for Federal Workers

President Biden Signs Executive Order to Narrow Gender Pay Gap

On Equal Pay Day, March 15, 2022, President Joe Biden signed an executive order aiming at tackling the gender pay gap for federal workers. The executive order encourages the government to consider banning federal contractors from seeking information about job applicants’ prior salary history. 

President Biden encouraged private companies to follow suit and make efforts to narrow the gender pay gap because gender equality is not just a women’s issue but also affects the entire nation’s economy and competitiveness.

In related efforts, the labor department issued a directive to strengthen obligations for audits of payrolls to counteract pay disparities based on gender, race, or ethnicity. The Office of Personnel Managed was also directed to consider a regulation to address the use of prior salary history in setting compensation for federal workers.

This Equal Pay Day drew attention to the pandemic’s affect on women’s labor force participation. There was about 1.1 million fewer women in the labor force this year than in 2020, with low-paid workers hit the hardest, leaving middle- and higher-paid workers insulated from the pandemic. Vice President Kamala Harris aired that the pandemic has only deepened inequities especially as caregiving has become more expensive and inaccessible. And emphasized how African-American women, Latina women, and Native-American women lose hundreds of thousands of dollars over a 40-year career span.

As a result, President Biden has focused on combatting occupational segregation to give better access to women into, primarily male-dominated, well-paying jobs. In October 2021, The Biden administration issued a national gender strategy to advance women and girls’ full participation in society. 

In the end, Equal Pay Day highlighted the continuing wage-gap with the White House reporting that in 2020, the average woman earned 83 cents on the dollar compared with a male colleague doing the same work and that this gap is even bigger for African-American and Native American women and Latinas. Further, social security benefits for women are 80% of those for men.

California has already banned asking applicants about their prior salary history.  California has also passed strong gender pay equity laws.  We handle many such cases.  

What do you think is the right approach to gender pay equity?

Learn More About Gender Discrimination / Wage and Hour Law

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Shirazi Law Firm Announced as a Top Los Angeles Employment Law Firm by UpCity! 

Shirazi Law Firm is announced as Top Employment and Labor Law Firm in Los Angeles and Nationally according to upcity

Shirazi Law Firm is thrilled to officially announce that we have been recognized as one of the top employment and labor law firms in Los Angeles and nationally by UpCity! 

From wrongful termination to discrimination to harassment, we handle all types of employment law cases. We have helped past clients achieve significant results against some of the world’s biggest companies, ensuring that California’s workers are never taken advantage of. This is only one reason our Los Angeles-based firm has been recognized by UpCity as not only one of the best employment and labor law firms in Southern California but also nationally in the United States

UpCity is a resource that helps connect businesses to service providers they can trust. With more than 70,000 listed providers—from marketing agencies to accounting firms to HR consultants to IT specialists, and many more—2 million businesses (and counting) have visited UpCity to research and identify the best partner for their needs. 

Dan Olson, CEO of UpCity, had this to say about the Shirazi Law Firm team: 

“When it comes to labor and employment cases, you need the right attorney behind you. The Shirazi Law Firm has proven time and time again that they’re one of the best employment law firms in California and the country as a whole.” – Dan Olson, CEO, UpCity 

This recognition has been driven in large part by our perfect 5-star UpCity review rating Here are a few of our favorite pieces of feedback we’ve received from our amazing customers: 

· “I could not have hired a better pregnancy discrimination lawyer than Emanuel Shirazi and team. Mr. Shirazi’s skill, passion, heart, patience and tenacity led to me getting an amazing 7 figure result. If you are looking for an employment lawyer in Los Angeles or anywhere in Socal, he is your guy hands down 100%” – Julie Vas 

· “Emmanuel did an amazing job on my case! He was very involved and communicated throughout the entire process. He made sure I was comfortable with the decisions and negotiated the best results! I have already recommended two of my friends to him. You are making the right choice choosing Shirazi Law Firm!” 

We’d like to thank UpCity for recognizing us with this tremendous honor. It’s truly incredible to be amongst such incredible firms in the UpCity community.


Learn More About Shirazi Law Firm’s Owner and Attorney Emanuel Shirazi

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Disability and Medical Leave at Work in Los Angeles

Today I want to talk about disability and medical leaves at work. Under California law, disability is any serious medical condition and can be temporary, as long as it’s not something trivial like a cold or a sore throat.

Disability and medical leave violations are one of the most common issues we handle such as when an employer fires an employee while they’re on disability, medical or pregnancy leave because:

  • They ran out of FMLA.
  • Don’t qualify for FMLA.
  • Ask for too much time off.
  • Don’t have a set in stone return to work date.
  • The employer says they can’t meet the accommodations request.

In California this is likely illegal if they have five or more employees. A thorough discussion is also required by the employer with the employee to determine if a reasonable accommodation is possible such as time off, change in position, and change in hours. Also – you don’t have to be a hundred percent healed in order to be allowed back to work.

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Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs Sued by Former Personal Chef for Sexual Harassment

Cindy Rueda, Sean Combs’ former lead chef, is suing the famous rapper, actor, and producer for a variety of things including sexual harassment, retaliation, defamation, failure to pay overtime wages, emotional distress, and a hostile work environment. Rueda began working for Combs in January of 2015 under the following conditions; she would work from 9a – midnight(sometimes 2a), 6 days a week, for a flat rate of $150 per day (about $11.50 per hour.) When Combs asked if she wanted to be hired as a full-time employee, she refused due to the unreasonable hours and pay. Occasionally, Rueda was also required to accompany Combs when he traveled to events outside of LA. For these occasions, Rueda was not given additional income.

Here is what we know about the additional allegations: 

  1. Rueda made multiple wage complaints to Stacey Friend, Combs’ estate director. Friend instructed Rueda to keep track of her hours. 
  2. Throughout her employment, Rueda was misclassified as an exempt employee, and not paid for overtime. 
  3. Rueda was required to serve Combs and his guests’ food during or immediately after they engaged in sexual activities. 
  4. Rueda was required to serve food to a naked Combs following sexual activity. Combs then asked her if his naked body made her uncomfortable or if she was attracted to it. 
  5. Combs’ naked house guest asked Rueda to look at his body and to admire his genitals. 
  6. Rueda complained, once again, to Stacey Friend about the inappropriate behavior. 
  7. Instead of taking Rueda’s complaints seriously, Rueda believes she was framed for theft and then terminated.
  8. Iris, the executive housekeeper, told Rueda that she found a watch in Combs’ trash can and if she wanted to take it. Knowing that Combs frequently discards items such as this, Rueda said yes. Days later, Rueda was accused of theft. 
  9. Rueda was told that they would not turn her in for theft as long as she signed a waiver of all rights and claims against Combs. Rueda returned the watch and refused to sign anything because she believed she was set up.
  10. Upon termination, Rueda was not paid all of her earned wages. 
  11. During her employment, Rueda encountered verbal harassment, obscene language, and demeaning comments, and was repeatedly exposed to unwanted sexual advances and uncomfortable situations. 

By suing, Rueda is hoping to recover lost wages as well as non-economic losses including humiliation, pain, and suffering. 

What do you think of Rueda’s claims?  Was she set-up? 

*image by Caroline Attwood

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NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks Settle Dancers Class Action for Unpaid Wages

Lauren Herington, a former dancer for the Milwaukee Bucks, brought a class action on behalf of herself and other dancers against the NBA team back in 2015. She claimed that during her employment she and fellow dancers got paid less than minimum wage for the hours they spent training, attending costume fittings, making charity appearances, posing for photo shoots, practicing, and performing during games. 

The dancers were paid as follows: 

$65 for games

$30 for practice

$50 for special events

Nearly two years later, Milwaukee Bucks have finally reached a settlement with the dancers and have agreed to pay out $250,000. So what does that amount look like when split up?

Herington would receive $10,000. Herington’s attorneys would receive $115,000. The remainder of the settlement would be divided amongst Herrington and 40 other dancers who were employed from September 12, 2012-July 31, 2015, and would be based on the hours each woman worked. The affected women would have to opt in to receive their share in exchange for waiving their legal claims.  Those that choose not to opt in, could potentially file their own suit against The Bucks.

The Bucks deny any wrongdoing, saying that the only reason they settled was to avoid a potentially costly litigation process. Regardless of whether you buy their reasoning, the Bucks are on a growing list of teams who have had to settle similar unpaid wage claims in the last few years including: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (who had to shell out $825,000), the Oakland Raiders (who had to pay a whopping $1.24 million), and the Cincinnati Bengals (who had to cough up $255,000.) 

Why do you think professional sports teams pay their cheerleaders/dancers so little?

*image by Keith Allison

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Shirazi Law Firm, PC

Shirazi Law Firm, PC

1875 Century Park East,
Suite 1025,
Los Angeles, CA 90067

Phone: 310 400 5891
Fax: 888 908 7359