Apple Executives Violated Worker Rights, Labor Officials Say

(Bloomberg) — Comments by Apple executives and policies imposed on employees have been deemed illegal by prosecutors at the National Labor Relations Board for violating workers’ rights.

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The NLRB’s Office of General Counsel said the “various labor, handbook and confidentiality rules” imposed by the tech giant “tend to hinder, discourage or coerce employees from exercising their right to collective action.” Yes,” spokesperson Kayla Blado said Monday.

Further, the department “determined that the indictment had merit, alleging that Apple’s statements and actions, including those of its senior executives, also violated the National Labor Relations Act.” Regional directors on the board will file complaints against the Cupertino, Calif.-based company unless Apple settles, Brad said in an email.

The agency’s investigation stems from a case filed in 2021 by former employees Ashley Jobick and Cher Scarlett. Scarlett accused the company of maintaining labor rules that “prohibit employees from discussing wages, hours, or other terms and conditions of employment.” Gjovik’s filing alleges that an email sent by CEO Tim Cook pledging to punish the leaker and a set of policies in Apple’s employee handbook violated federal law. ing.

Gjovik cited policies restricting staff from disclosing “business information,” talking to reporters, revealing co-workers’ compensation, or posting disrespectful tweets.

“No one here divulges confidential information,” Cook wrote in an email to all staff sent in September 2021. Cook’s message said that Apple “is doing everything in its power to identify the person who leaked it,” and that it “requests disclosure of sensitive information, whether it be his IP in a product or details of a confidential meeting.” I do not accept it,” he said.

His email follows media coverage of the previous week’s company-wide internal meeting, where management answered questions on topics such as pay equity and Texas anti-abortion law.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the NLRB’s findings on Monday.

At a hearing earlier this month, company attorney Jason Stanevich said: Fairness to all other things they perceive as important causes to promote in the workplace. ”

US labor law protects the right of workers to communicate with each other and participate in collective action on workplace issues. Complaints filed by NLRB prosecutors are reviewed by administrative law judges, and rulings are appealed to members of the Labor Board in Washington, which in turn appeals to federal courts. Government agencies do not have the power to impose punitive damages or hold executives personally accountable for violations, but they can order companies to change workplace policies.

Apple, the world’s most valuable company, has faced an unusual wave of public dissent among its white-collar employees in recent years, as well as unionization in Maryland and Oklahoma last year. We are also facing an unprecedented organizing campaign by the retail employees who voted. NLRB prosecutors also found support in recent months in claims that Apple illegally extorted employees at retail stores in Atlanta and New York City, where some employees were trying to unionize. The company denies wrongdoing.

Gjovik, a senior engineering program manager, was fired by Apple in September 2021 after filing complaints with several state and federal agencies. In documents shared by Gjovik, Apple claimed that Gjovik was fired for violating policies such as disclosing confidential product information.

Gjovik claimed that her disclosures were legally protected and that she was harassed, humiliated, and asked not to discuss her concerns with co-workers after voicing concerns about workplace health hazards. said he was fired in retaliation for his complaint.

“I hope Apple is the first to be told by the government that this culture of secrecy is not OK,” Gjovik said Monday. “We also hope that this will shock other companies and even Apple will be held accountable.”

(Updates with NLRB comment starting in second paragraph)

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