Apple’s leaked email about stopping leaks violated labor laws

US National Labor Relations Board prosecutors have determined that Apple has been violating labor rights based on comments made by company executives, as well as policies imposed on employees. According to the NLRB, Apple’s “various work rules” tend to interfere with or coerce its employees from exercising their labor rights.

NLRB says Apple executives violated labor rights

As reported by Bloomberg, the agency “found merit to a charge alleging statements and conduct by Apple — including high-level executives — also violated the National Labor Relations Act.” The report says that unless Apple settles, “the board’s regional director will issue a complaint against the Cupertino, California-based company, Blado said in an email.”

The dispute was brought to the agency by former employee Ashley Gjovik, who filed claims in 2021 alleging that an email Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook sent pledging to punish leakers, as well as a set of policies in Apple’s employee handbook, violated federal law. Gjovik’s filings cited policies restricting staff from disclosing “business information,” talking to reporters, revealing co-workers’ compensation or posting impolite tweets.

In an email sent in September 2021, Apple’s CEO wrote that “people who leak confidential information do not belong here” and that the company was “doing everything in our power to identify those who leaked.”

Bloomberg mentions that Cook’s email was sent after “media reports about a companywide internal meeting the prior week at which management fielded questions about topics such as pay equity and Texas’ anti-abortion law.” The company first declined to comment on the NLRB’s accusations. An Apple attorney later said the company “fosters an open and inclusive work environment.”

For those unfamiliar, Ashley Gjovik worked as a senior engineering program manager at Apple, but she was fired for allegedly violating company policies after leaking private corporate information. Gjovik became known for criticizing Apple over how it handled situations of sexism and harassment among its employees.

Now the complaints issued by NLRB prosecutors will be reviewed by administrative law judges, and the rulings can be appealed to labor board members in Washington. While the agency cannot punish Apple or its executives, it can order the company to change its labor policies.

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Naveen Kumar

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