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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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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Whistleblowing – Case Example

Whistleblower Employment Lawyer

Patty was a wonderful professional who performed her job exceptionally. Patty had complained to her Employer about fraud that was being committed by her boss in violation of the USA Patriot Act. Instead of taking action to address the fraud, the company let the fraud continue unabated. Moreover, management retaliated against Patty by bullying and intimidating her and telling her to look the other way on financial crimes. 

When Patty had to take a medical leave of absence due to a serious medical condition affecting her day-to-day life, management retaliated by not accommodating and instead terminating her employment before she was fully released to work by her doctor. 

Patty’s employer discriminated against her by terminating her employment because of her disability and in retaliation for exercising her rights under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) and California Labor Code. 

If you suspect that you have been retaliated against or wrongfully terminated for making complaints of illegal activity, or because of your disability or medical condition, give us a call at 310-400-5891 for your free intake.

Learn more about Whistleblowing Law / Disability & Medical Leave Law in California

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6 Tips to Find the Best Employment Attorney

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Tesla Sued for Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination—A Silicon Valley Trend?

When you think of Tesla the words “progressive”, “Elon Musk”, “battery-powered”, or “autonomous”, might come to mind. AJ Vandermeyden (33), a female engineer for the company, probably has other associations. She is currently alleging that her employer repeatedly ignored her sexual harassment complaints, paid her less than her male cohorts, promoted her less-qualified male colleagues instead of her, and subsequently retaliated against her. 

Here is what we know about her allegations: 

  1. Vandermeyden alleges that HR dismissed her repeated sexual harassment complaints because her male harasser was a “high performer.”
  2. Vandermeyden started working in the general assembly department in 2013. At the time, she was paid less than the male engineers, doing the same work, were paid. 
  3. Vandermeyden noticed inadequacies in the quality testing of the cars that weren’t noticed by her male colleagues or superiors. Though she developed a solution to fix the problem, she wasn’t given a promotion. Instead, her less-qualified male colleagues were.
  4. When Vandermeyden complained about not receiving a promotion, management told her that she was first required to achieve a performance standard. Not only was this an impossible standard to attain, it was not a requirement for her male colleagues.
  5. While on the factory floor, male colleagues said inappropriate things to, whistled to, and catcalled her and other female engineers. 
  6. One time, a female walked by and a group of 20 men began whistling at her from above. 
  7. Even though Vandermeyden received many positive performance evaluations, she was never given the opportunity to transfer to another department.   
  8. Vandermeyden alleges she was denied overtime pay, rest breaks, and lunch breaks. 

As a result of the discrimination and harassment, Vandermeyden claims to have suffered mental distress and humiliation.

Here is what we know about the company culture at Tesla:

  1. All Chief Exec positions at Tesla are held by men, and out of 30 VP positions, only two are held by women. 
  2. Oftentimes, Vandermeyden was the only woman in a meeting of 50 men.

Tesla denies Vandermeyden’s allegations of gender discrimination, harassment, and retaliation after a neutral third party made an extensive investigation. They claim to create a positive working environment, free of discrimination for all employees.

Do you think this is just another example of a male-dominated job culture in Silicon Valley? Or do you think the claims are more emotional?

*image by Paul Hudson

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Ferrari Sued by Whistleblower Former Employee Who Reported Odometer Roll Back

Robert ‘Bud’ Root (71), a former Ferrari salesman, alleges he was fired after he blew the whistle on his former employer’s use of a device that illegally rolled back odometer miles. Following his dismissal, Root sued the Ferrari dealership in Palm Beach. 

Here is what we know about Root’s allegations: 

  1. Root discovered a device that rolls back the digital odometers on Ferraris. This practice allowed wealthy owners to resell their cars for more money.
  2. The device (called the Deis Tester) can only be used if the headquarters approves. Root alleges that employees of the company are trained on how to use the device. 
  3. Root named Ferrari corporate in the suit because the device cannot function without first being sanctioned by them. 
  4. Retired CEO of Sara Lee Foods, apparently paid to have the procedure done. After his odometer was rolled back to zero, the value of his $3 mil sport’s car increased by $1 mil.
  5. If Root’s allegations can be proven, felony charges in Florida and other states might follow. 
  6. Root was fired in January 2016, even though he had just sold a car for $1.4 mil and had earned over $200,000 in commissions in 2015. The reason they gave him was his “egregious violation of business ethics”. Instead, Root claims that he was singled out when he objected to the use of the Deis Tester because of the potential criminal charges that may result. 
  7. Root was replaced by a 32-year-old woman with no car sales experience (who was then the GM’s mistress and now his wife). She was given Root’s client list. 
  8. Root also claims that all the managers of the dealerships in Palm Beach were conspiring with local buyers so that they could avoid paying sales tax. 

The attorney for Ferrari claims that there is no merit to the claims that Root is alleging.

What do you think of these claims?

*image by Paul Cisneros

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Former Basketball Coach Awarded $3.36 Million for Wrongful Termination in Retaliation for Gender Discrimination Complaint

When Beth Burns, the former San Diego State University women’s basketball coach was fired back in 2013, it came as quite a shock. Not only did the termination follow an impressive 27-win season, but within the previous year she had been given a five year extension on her contract (along with a whopping $220,000 salary.) Recently a jury awarded her $3.36 million because they found she was wrongfully terminated because she complained that the men’s and women’s basketball teams were not treated equally (gender discrimination.)

So then what grounds did the University have in firing Burns?

The SDSU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Jim Sterk, claims that Burns hit her assistant coach, Adam Barretts, with a clipboard and then elbowed him another time during a game. Sterk gave Burns the option of resigning, retiring, or being fired. Burns chose retirement but then sued the university in 2014 for breach of contract and breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing and retaliation. 

Burns disagrees with Sterk’s allegations. Instead, she believes that she was fired for being a whistleblower; exposing the fact that men’s and women’s basketball teams weren’t being treated equally. She also complained about potential Title IX violations. Burns also alleged that others were fired for demanding that female athletes be treated equally. 

After a month of testimony and two days of deliberation, a five-woman, seven-man jury delivered the verdict, Beth Burns would receive $3.36 million for wrongful termination in her whistleblower lawsuit against the University. Burns’ attorney also claimed that SDSU “assassinated” her character during the trial and that her reputation would forever be ruined. Burns currently works at USC and earns about $150,000 per season.

What do you think of the jury’s message to the University about retaliating against someone who claims gender discrimination?

*image by Flickr

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Apple Sued by In House Attorney for Age and Gender Discrimination and Retaliation

An in-house attorney for Apple is suing the company for age discrimination, gender discrimination and wrongful termination. The plaintiff, who filed the lawsuit under the name ‘Jane Doe’ in order to protect her identity, claims that she was wrongfully terminated from her job as Global Product Safety Counsel. when she refused to engage in acts of “moral turpitude and dishonesty.” Her lawsuit also claims that she continuously experienced harassment and discrimination by her supervisors. 

Doe claims that Apple execs repeatedly harassed and discriminated against her when she refused to engage in unethical practices during her two years of employment with the company.  Doe alleges that: 

  1. Doe made ethical recommendations that were unpopular with her superiors. When Doe tried to write a safety compliance program, she received backlash because it didn’t align with the way that the company usually did things. 
  2. Doe was referred to as an ‘alarmist’ and ‘argumentative’
  3. Doe was purposely left out of meetings that were directly related to projects she was working on. 
  4. Doe was told that Apple “should have hired a smart 5th year supply chain lawyer instead of someone with baggage.”
  5. Doe was told that Apple “does not trust you.”
  6. Doe was terminated when she filed a complaint despite having great performance reviews and consistent raises. 

Do you think these allegations are enough to legally be discrimination, harassment, or retaliation?

*image by Beni Krausz, Unsplash

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“OhNo”: Alleged Whistleblower Sues City of Inglewood re NFL Team Related Fraud

Barbara Ohno, the former accountant for the city of Inglewood, recently filed a lawsuit against the City and James Butts, the mayor of Inglewood. She claims that she was fired for exposing the city’s financial and accounting irregularities as they pursued an NFL team. 

The details of the whistle blowing lawsuit are listed below: 

  1. Ohno claims she was let go in retaliation for telling federal and state authorities that the city combined both its grant money and general funds in order to inflate their total budget.
  2. Ohno alleges that when she refused to comply with the “plantation mentality” she was told to look the other way.
  3. Ohno claims that her right to freedom of speech was violated.
  4. Ohno alleges that the city routinely engaged in faulty accounting practices and fraudulent reporting, in order to make themselves look more fiscally responsible. 
  5. Ohno was assured by Butts and other officials that the arrival of the NFL team would create so much income that it would conceal the accounting irregularities. 
  6. Ohno, along with two other accountants, were originally hired to audit the city’s books in August 2014. Ohno claims that they were hired in order to fix the disarrayed books and turn the city’s finances around.
  7. Since neighboring cities, such as Carson, were also competing to host the NFL team, there was increased pressure to have a viable accounting history. Ohno believes this is why Butts brought in three outside accountants to clean up their books.
  8. Ohno was fired shortly before the NFL decided to relocate the St. Louis Rams to the former Hollywood Park site. 

The city of Inglewood denies Ohno’s claims. They stand firm that Ohno was merely hired as a probationary employees and was released before she completed her trial period. Since Inglewood was not technically required to present the NFL with financial data, they find Ohno’s claims preposterous. The city also claims to undergo frequent and rigorous audits by an outside firm in order to improve their financial reporting procedures. 

What do you think of these whistleblower allegations?

*image by Flickr

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Volkswagen Employee Sues for Wrongful Termination for Retaliation Re Emissions Scandal

Daniel Donovan, a former employee of Volkswagen, is suing the company for wrongful termination and violation of Michigan’s whistle-blower law. 

Volkswagen recently admitted to programming over half a million cars in the US so that they would pass emissions requirements (set in place by the Environmental Protection Agency) but then turn off once the cars were on the road. These souped up cars emitted nearly 40% more nitrogen oxide (a toxic chemical found in cigarette smoke, vehicle exhaust, and smog) than typically allowed by the EPA. An increase of this chemical in the environment can contribute to respiratory problems. 

After VW publicly admitted to cheating on emissions tests, employees at the VW Michigan Unit allegedly began destroying incriminating evidence of the installation of questionable emissions software. 

Donovan, a technical project manager responsible for managing electronic information related to liability cases, alleges his supervisor Robert Arturi told him that the company had to “stop deleting data effective immediately pursuant to a Department of Justice hold.” When Donovan relayed this order to his information technology manager, he wasn’t taken seriously and the data deletion continued for a few days more. In addition, an independent investigation by an accounting firm was halted due to lack of evidence. 

Though Donovan was fired shortly after he told supervisors and in-house lawyers the data continued to be deleted despite Arturi’s order, a VW spokeswoman, Jeannine Ginivan, insists that his termination had nothing to do with the emissions incident. Ginivan claims that Donovan’s wrongful termination claim is without merit. 

Volkswagen, established in 1937, is the second largest auto manufacturer in the world and literally translates to “People’s Automobile” in German.

In Michigan, if an employee is let go by an employer because he or she refuses to participate in an illegal activity, legal action may be taken by the employee. A state law also protects workers who report a legal violation. 

What do you think of these bombshell allegations?

*image by Flickr

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Shirazi Law Firm, PC

Shirazi Law Firm, PC

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Phone: 310 400 5891
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