Apple manager fired after filing harassment complaints reportedly has US approval to sue company
Apple's faced increasing pressure from employees about its work culture.
Apple's faced increasing pressure from employees about its work culture.James Martin/CNET
A former Apple engineering manager who filed a complaint with the US National Labor Relations Board last month saying she was harassed and retaliated against was reportedly fired by Apple Thursday. She says she's now been given approval by California and US civil rights agencies to sue her former employer.
Ashley Gjovik told news outlets including Bloomberg that she was fired from Apple after months of publicly discussing harassment from coworkers, managers and Apple's administrative teams. She went on administrative leave in the summer, following her complaints about a hostile work environment.
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Delivered on weekdays. Gjovik, who is one of at least two Apple employees who have filed complaints with government authorities over harassment and work culture issues in the past couple months, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about the right-to-sue notices. Apple, which has previously declined to discuss individual employee matters, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
"Apple has an internal culture of surveillance, intimidation and alienation," Gjovik tweeted on August 30. Gjovik's government approval to sue Apple is just the latest in wave of employee activism at the iPhone maker this year. In the past few months, employees have circulated internal petitions and informal surveys, pushing back on Apple's back-to-work plans, advocating instead for more flexible working conditions.
Employees have also criticized Apple's plans to scan some US customers' iPhones, iPads and Mac computers for images of child exploitation, worrying it could lead to censorship or arrest by repressive governments (Apple has since delayed its plans.) Current and former Apple employees have been increasingly turning to Twitter to voice their complaints under the hashtag #AppleToo, an effort to discuss toxic elements of Apple's employee culture and push for change. In an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and the company's senior leadership last week, the group asked the tech giant to improve how it treats workers and "fulfill its promise of inclusion, diversity and equity."
In the letter, the group asked for increased privacy of personal information; transparent and fair compensation; an audit of all third-party relationships; increased accountability across leadership and human resource teams; and a process for sharing group concerns. The letter also asks for a reinvestigation of all reports of "racism, discrimination, abuse, harassment, concerted activity suppression and retaliation" at Apple. Gjovik tweeted that while she is not involved in #AppleToo, she supports their efforts.
She's also shared her story widely on social media, including posts of some emails and exchanges detailing the hostile environment she experienced.
She said she too hopes to hold the company accountable.
"I have to think they know that I'm not going to let it go," she told Bloomberg in the interview on Friday. "I still am very much devoted to holding them accountable for this and trying to make things better for my colleagues and other people in workplaces like this."