Apple accused of using NDAs to silence workers’ complaints | Cult of Mac

Apple accused of using NDAs to silence workers’ complaints

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Apple accused of using NDAs to silence workers’ complaints
The SEC has been asked to look into whether Apple lied about not using NDAs as concealment clauses.
Photo: SEC

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is being urged to look into Apple’s claim that it doesn’t use nondisclosure agreements to prevent its employees from talking about alleged incidents of harassment and discrimination.

The request comes from a collection of state treasurers who point out that activists accuse Apple of using NDAs for exactly this purpose.

Apple says it doesn’t silence whistleblowers. Activists disagree.

In 2021, a shareholder proposal was made to require Apple to evaluate the risks from the NDAs it requires employees to sign. The goal was to be sure the agreements weren’t being used to silence whistleblowers. Apple went to the SEC to try to block the proposal on the grounds that it “already substantially implemented the underlying concerns and objectives of the proposal,” according to The Washington Post.

However, numerous news articles allege that Apple does use NDAs as concealment clauses. So in December, the SEC decided to allow the proposal to go ahead. Apple shareholders will vote on the proposal at a March 2022 meeting.

Calls for an SEC investigation of Apple

More recently, a letter from the state treasurers points out that if Apple’s assertion to the SEC that it doesn’t use NDAs as concealment clauses can be proved false, then the iPhone-maker attempted to deceive both the SEC and Apple shareholders.

“We are interested to learn whether or not Apple misled the Commission and investors about this matter, and we are hopeful that the SEC will act to preserve the integrity of the shareholder proposal process,” says the state treasurers’ letter.

If the SEC decides to investigate, and its findings go against Apple, the agency could levy a fine against the company. And, of course, it would be something of a black eye for Apple’s reputation.