National Labor Relations Board claims Apple executives violated worker rights

U.S. National Labor Relations Board prosecutors claim that comments by Apple executives and policies imposed on employees violate workers’ rights.

Apple Park in Cupertino, California
Apple Park in Cupertino, California

Josh Eidelson for Bloomberg Law:

The NLRB general counsel’s office has determined that “various work rules, handbook rules, and confidentiality rules” imposed by the tech giant “tend to interfere with, restrain or coerce employees” from exercising their rights to collective action, spokesperson Kayla Blado said Monday.

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

The agency’s investigations stemmed from cases brought in 2021 by former employees Ashley Gjovik and Cher Scarlett. Scarlett accused the company of maintaining work rules that “prohibit employees from discussing wages, hours, or other terms or conditions of employment.” Gjovik’s filings alleged 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 cited policies restricting staff from disclosing “business information,” talking to reporters, revealing co-workers’ compensation or posting impolite tweets.

In his all-staff email, sent in September 2021, Cook wrote that “people who leak confidential information do not belong here.” Cook’s message said that Apple was “doing everything in our power to identify those who leaked” and that it didn’t “tolerate disclosures of confidential information, whether it’s product IP or the details of a confidential meeting.”

Complaints issued by NLRB prosecutors are reviewed by administrative law judges, whose rulings can be appealed to labor board members in Washington — and, from there, to federal court. The agency lacks the ability to impose punitive damages or hold executives personally liable for violations, but can order companies to change workplace policies.

MacDailyNews Take: Ooh, an NLRB complaint. That and a nickel will get you a nickel. In the future, Apple should refrain from hiring Karens.

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