US Labor Department investigates whistleblower complaint against Apple

Labor Department investigates whistleblower complaint against Apple


Groups oppose Apple photo scanning
Ashley Gjovik is one of a number of employees speaking out against Apple.
Photo: Benjamin Balázs

The Department of Labor is investigating Apple over claims the company repeatedly retaliated against employees who raised concerns about alleged mistreatment.

Ashley Gjovik, a former Apple engineering manager who spoke out about what she deems an unsafe and hostile work environment, confirmed that she filed a whistleblower complaint in an effort to seek justice and protect other Apple employees. And in a letter sent to Gjovik, the Labor Department confirmed it launched a formal investigation.

U.S. Department of Labor probes Apple

The Financial Times saw the Labor Department’s letter about the investigation into Gjovik’s claims. And the publication quoted a legal expert, who said the probe’s every existence is potentially worrisome for Apple:

Stephen Kohn, an employment lawyer and an expert in US whistleblowing law, said the burden of proof needed for the agency to open an investigation was high, as the employee must have already established enough evidence that, unless rebutted, would prove the case.

He said the case would be closely watched because it was especially rare for a labour dispute with Big Tech “to break into the public” domain. The labour department rarely investigated such cases, he added, because of the widespread use of non-disclosure agreements to “silence and intimidate whistleblowers.”

Ashley Gjovik’s complaints against Apple

Gjovik first filed a complaint against Apple with the National Labor Relations Board in August. In it, she detailed alleged unfair labor practices. She also accused Apple of retaliating when issues were raised with other staff members.

In September, Gjovik revealed she had been fired by Apple after publicly voicing her concerns. Since then, she has been speaking out about the issues at Apple, and the treatment she received while she was an employee of the company.

Gjovik this week confirmed to CNET that she took her complaint to the Labor Department, which will investigate.

“Apple retaliated against me with such impunity,” Gjovik said. “It seemed like they thought they’d never be held accountable. I want to ensure the world sees that even the biggest company in the world isn’t immune from accountability.”

Gjovik isn’t the only one

Gjovik is one of many Apple employees who have lodged complaints over alleged harassment, unfair treatment and unsafe conditions. In recent months, an “AppleToo” movement has started, calling on the company to make changes.

In September, Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s HR chief, encouraged employees with concerns to talk to their managers and their “business relations partner.”

Apple is “deeply committed to creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive workplace,” the company told Financial Times. Apple also insisted that it takes “all concerns seriously” and investigates any complaints raised.


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