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

Emanuel Shirazi

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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