Judge says lawsuit against Apple claiming sex-bias for canceled contract can proceed

Apple must face a lawsuit lodged by Industrial Janitorial Service which accuses Apple of canceling a contract with a janitorial service because the owner is a woman.

Apple Store Palo Alto
Apple Store Palo Alto

Robert Burnson for Bloomberg:

In a tentative ruling Wednesday in California state court in San Jose, Judge Cynthia Lie ruled that the conduct alleged in the lawsuit — which includes an Apple manager referring to the service’s female owner as a “typical woman in business” who “thinks she is assertive, but she’s just pushy” — was enough to allow the case to proceed to trial.

The problems started in mid-2013 when Apple managers discovered that the service was selling some of its unpaid invoices — according to the lawsuit Apple was typically three to four months late in paying its bills — to a third-party broker.

The managers asked the owner, Darla Drendel, to come to Apple headquarters for a meeting and when she arrived were “rude and dismissive,” the cleaning service said. A few months later, an Apple manager made the comment about her being “pushy” in a phone call with her husband, according to the complaint.

In 2017, after Drendel notified Apple of $1.5 millions in unpaid invoices, the tech giant terminated the contract, according to the cleaning service.

MacDailyNews Take: Sounds like the contract was terminated because the owner was a “rude, dismissive, and pushy” person, not because she was a woman. She just happens to be a woman and, if she were a man who were “rude, dismissive, and pushy” Apple likely would have moved on to another janitorial service that was easier to work with as well. It’s not smart business to be “rude, dismissive, and pushy” with anyone, but especially with those with whom you’ve been contracted to do a job.


  1. Problem is, the same behavior by a man would be characterized as assertive and agressive in a somewhat positive way. Women being agressive in business are typically viewed as being b**chy where men are not viewed nearly as negatively displaying the same behaviors.

  2. Am I missing something here? Apple was months late paying their bill to the janitorial service and when the owner demanded that they pay the bill THEY were pushy and deserved to have their contract terminated?

    1. That’s the most troubling thing to me. I couldn’t care less about this particular contractor, but I thought Apple was above that.

      Taking months to pay the invoices of smaller suppliers is a common way to manage cashflow, for companies who can get away with it due to the power imbalance. It can threaten the viability of smaller firms, it can cost enormous amounts to make up for the cashflow through operating lines of credit, and it’s a drag on the larger economy.

      If they are paying bills 3-4 months late, it’s a problem and perhaps a symptom of something. Whether it’s a way to manage Apple’s cashflow (with their resources it hardly seems with it) or if it’s a symptom of internal mismanagement, Apple would be wise to fix it.

  3. Not exactly good ethical business practice and certainly damn rude to be that late with paying your bills just because you can. To sack a business that dares asks for them to be paid is pretty shocking actually. Whether you can win the case in this way or on tnis accusation mind is rather subjective whatever the actual morality.

  4. Just based on this summary of the case — and we don’t know of the cleaning quality — I guess the cleaning service does not have enough confidence to win on the merits of late payment so it sues on the basis of sex bias. Or it could be both: Sex bias and tardiness. Perhaps other things.

    1. If the bill got paid, even if late, probably no lawsuit. If they got fired for complaining, certainly no lawsuit. Companies can be exceptionally tacky, as long as they are equally tacky to everyone. Nobody has a right to have their contract renewed, as long as the termination is not based on some unlawful basis. Sex discrimination, if proved, suggests that the defendant was not equally tacky to everyone. If the inequality was based on sex, that is illegal.

      Remember, though, that we only have one side of the story.

    1. Number of sides depends on how strong your scanning electron microscope.

      The alt right faction here can only be bothered to look at their self interested side, science and progress and impacts to others be damned.

  5. Hey Apple! Fire your manager who is in charge of being months late in paying your subcontractors. And while you’re at it, fire the manager who made those comments.
    You have no idea how much damage this is going to your good guy reputation.

    Apple, the two trillion dollar company that doesn’t pay their janitors?!?!?
    Are you kidding me?

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