Fired Apple employee files complaint with U.S. labor agency

An Apple employee who was fired last month after leading fellow workers in publicly sharing instances of what they called harassment and discrimination has filed a charge with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

In documents related to the charge that were viewed by Reuters, former Apple program manager Janneke Parrish alleged that Apple fired her to stymie her efforts to organize fellow workers.

“Apple Inc. terminated Parrish’s employment based upon false and pretextual reasons and in fact terminated her employment in (an) attempt to nip-in-the-bud the successful organizing campaign that Parrish and her coworkers established to address and redress employees’ workplace concerns,” the charge states.

Parrish raised concerns about issues including the treatment of people with disabilities, pay equity, sexism and employee mental health, according to the charge.

In an interview last month, Parrish said the iPhone maker informed her that she had been terminated for deleting material on company equipment while she was under investigation over the leaking of a company town hall to media. She told Reuters she denies leaking.

In response to Tuesday’s complaint, Apple reiterated a prior comment that it does not discuss specific employee matters and is “deeply committed to creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive workplace,” taking “all concerns” from employees seriously.

Long famed for its secretive culture, Apple has experienced other examples of employee unrest in recent months. In September, two Apple employees told Reuters they had also filed charges against the company with the NLRB. The workers accused Apple of retaliation and halting discussion of pay among employees, among other allegations.

Over the summer, current and former Apple employees began detailing on social media what they said were experiences of harassment and discrimination. Parrish and her colleagues began publishing the stories on social media and a publishing platform in a weekly bulletin titled ‘#AppleToo.’

Since her termination, Parrish has continued sharing the digest and shifted to daily publication.

A growing number of tech workers across the industry have been raising concerns about their working conditions and technology’s impact on society, said Laurie Burgess, a lawyer who is representing Parrish.

“Tech companies are underestimating the importance of social justice issues to their employees,” said Burgess.

The NLRB investigates all charges it receives and prosecutes employers if it finds the cases have merit.

Reporting by Julia Love, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

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