US Labor Agency Probes Two Complaints From Apple Workers

By Reuters
Reuters
Reuters
September 3, 2021 Updated: September 3, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO—A U.S. national labor agency is investigating two charges against tech giant Apple Inc. filed by employees, records on its website show.

The charges, filed on Aug. 26 and Sept. 1, are being reviewed by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board’s office in Oakland, California. The agency declined to comment.

“We take all concerns seriously and we thoroughly investigate whenever a concern is raised,” Apple, which is based in Cupertino, California, said in a statement that cited employee privacy in declining to discuss specifics.

Ashley Gjovik, a senior engineering program manager at Apple, told Reuters that she filed the Aug. 26 charge, which cites harassment by a manager, reduction of responsibilities, and increases in unfavorable work, among other complaints.

The Sept. 1 charge was filed by Cher Scarlett, an Apple software engineer who said the company repeatedly stopped discussions of pay among employees.

The documents she sent the agency, which she provided to Reuters, say Apple “engaged in coercive and suppressive activity that has enabled abuse and harassment of organizers of protected concerted activity.”

The labor relations agency investigates all charges it receives and launches a prosecution against the employer if merited.

In recent weeks, some current and former Apple workers have critiqued company culture on Twitter, using the hashtag #AppleToo. U.S. law allows employees to openly discuss certain topics, such as working conditions.

In addition, workers have engaged in a heated debate on the messaging platform Slack about Apple’s move to scan U.S. customer phones and computers for child sex abuse images, Reuters reported.

In a letter accompanying her NLRB charge, Scarlett wrote that Apple employees began a pay equity survey in April, but the company blocked them, citing privacy concerns.

It also halted subsequent surveys, including one that aimed to address the privacy issues, Scarlett added.

In late August, Apple denied employees’ request to create a Slack channel to discuss pay equity, which Scarlett told Reuters was “the last straw” that led her to file the complaint.

Gjovik told Reuters that after Apple started investigating her complaints, as well as accusations of sexism, her managers began re-assigning her work to colleagues and loading her up with undesirable tasks.

The company put her on paid administrative leave in early August. She said Apple had not finished its investigation.

Reuters