back to article Apple engineers complain of hostile work environment to US labor watchdog

The US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) – which investigates complaints against employers – is to examine claims made by two Apple employees, including allegations of unfair changes to working conditions, harassment, and muzzling pay equity discussions. Ashley Gjovik, a senior engineering program manager at Apple who …

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  2. Denarius Silver badge

    Is it just me ?

    From my limited knowledge based on decades of working for Merkin multinationals, are there hidden selection criteria for HR droids in manglement ? Perhaps suppressed anger, general control freakiness and a desire to climb a hierarchy by submission to the most sociopathic manglement ? Perhaps abolishing Human Remains as a department, creating a very basic payroll group and everthing else goes back to local management where it was before the whole HR as a skill set was created ?

    Lest one think this is purely a Merkin phenomena, I note Oz Defence HR and Vet Affairs has the same style of behavior usually seen in the shonkier insurance companies. No doubt more will come to attention despite the draconian antiwhistle blower legislation in Oz.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Is it just me ?

      The thing is, tech workers are probably the next best crop after Coca in the 80s when it comes to margins. The problem is that you need to keep the cost of upkeeping the worker enough above the median pay, so that the general population will be envious and at the same time they will not have enough money to go solo (or take the team) and create a potential competition. Plus you need a ton of manipulation techniques and right propaganda to keep them emotionally and physically captured by the company - they must develop something akin to a Stockholm syndrome and sense of belonging to a cult. And so that's why you need psychopaths in HR to keep the farm going.

      Many tech workers create millions and millions of pounds of value, but they only see 60k a year of that (and that before tax).

      1. Woodnag


        Around $125k for a junior softie at Google in the Bay Area... and I remember reading that the median salary is over $200k.

        1. Falmari Silver badge

          Re: 60k??


          I think elsergiovolador is UK based quoting UK wages in £s.

          "Many tech workers create millions and millions of pounds of value, but they only see 60k a year of that (and that before tax)."

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Is it just me ?

      I remember when I first started my career, I thought this stuff was normal and the game of creeping up the ladder was how it was. I even played it somewhat.

      With passing years this faded and my attitude is now something like “if you want me to do this stuff for you then I’ll do it but don’t fuck me about because i can go and do it somewhere else….”.

      The whole system that keeps people as slaves to their financial outgoings is really shit and not too far from feudalism. Just behind a disguise.

      1. Reg Reader 1

        Re: Is it just me ?

        You beat me to mention wage slave. The whole system since at least the late 1970s has been moved in that direction.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is it just me ?

        When I was at the start, I believed the tropes - about talking to HR about concerns as they care, "we" are a company, and so on. I had a very friend-like view of the employer, "my company".

        When I got a better internal job offer at another geo, the filthy crap the local HR did came as an absolute shock. And a revelation, at least at that age.

        Now I see corporate employment as a transactional relationship, HR only looks after the company, my employer is "the corporation", and if you aren't ready to walk away it's not good.

        I do not think this is wrong, but could do without the HR con games, and all the other MBA fart-talk. But I suppose if 10% fall for it, it's better than none. These steps Apple are taking are to keep those percentages up.

        Reality Distortion Field isn't enough inhouse.

    3. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Is it just me ?

      >From my limited knowledge based on decades of working for Merkin multinationals, are there hidden selection criteria for HR droids in manglement ?

      My ('merkan) experience of HR is that they might not all come from the same stable but they certainly seem to know each other. They're a bit like law enforcement (which is, actually, their primary function in the US) -- they may work for different companies but they still represent the same force and when push comes to shove they all stand together.

      Since they're organizers of company picnics and the like its easy to think that they're on your (the workforce's) side. They are most definitely not. If you have an issue with the company or its management they will automatically do everything in their power to protect the company regardless of right or wrong.

      Since they know each other (in a particular area) it is also unwise to cross them because no matter where you try to work HR will be the gatekeeper.

    4. tip pc Silver badge

      Re: Is it just me ?

      American company but UK office, 1 job I went for, I ace'd the interview and tech review from my potential colleagues.

      The HR manger idiot had me go back twice for additional interviews.

      At the end he said the team wanted to offer me the job but he didn't want to pay me what I was asking, which was at the top of the pay scale advertised, because it was ~£6k more than he was being paid but only ~ £1k more than I was already being paid.

      I really felt for the 2 guys in that team as they truly needed help, I had ace'd their tests (basically i completed correctly the tasks in 20 minutes instead of the hour they allocated) and they where obviously happy to have found someone with the skills they needed. I obviously didn't take the job as I felt I'd not get any support from HR, actually I thought HR would be looking to muscle me out if an issue occurred like I got sick or encountered an unpleasant work place situation.

  3. martinusher Silver badge

    Obviously Someone Hasn't Been Reading Stuff

    Ashley seems to be so busy with work, social media and what-have-you that she's obviously not been reading any 'hard' news. Stuff about, say, Amazon employees attempting to organize. She may also have neglected to read her employment contract.

    Discussing pay and benefits on a work Slack channel is perilously close to an activity called 'organizing a union'. Companies get really nervous about this sort of thing, they like to nip it in the bud, rooting out troublemakers and so on This is why information about organizing will tell you that Rule #1 is that you do not use an employer's time, facilities or technology to discuss -- even remotely and one on one -- the benefits of organizing.

    The bit about her contract of employment concerns the manner of employment in California. As a "right to work" state both employer and employee are free to terminate their relationship at any time without prejudice. Put simply, you can be fired at any time from a job, no notice needed. The application of this rule is usually softened a bit to avoid startling the herd but I've actually witnessed sudden dismissal happening to colleagues. (As an extra note, if it is "for cause" you can kiss any unemployment benefits goodbye.) Employees are, of course, free to quit at any time for any reason. (Not recommended, unless you don't need another job.)(Ever.)

    (Of course, being a nice middle class professional A. will surely protest that she wasn't trying to organize anything as uncouth as a union on work time &tc.)

    1. Naselus

      Re: Obviously Someone Hasn't Been Reading Stuff

      " As a "right to work" state both employer and employee are free to terminate their relationship at any time without prejudice. "

      Uh, California is not a right to work state, and that is not what right to work means anyway.

      "The right-to work-law lets employees get the benefit of union contracts without paying dues and fees to a union." -

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Apple is not a company I would want to work for

    Apple has an internal police that can carry concealed weapons.

    Apple has given itself the right to search your house with its stormtroopers if it even only thinks you are a risk of giving away something about its latest curved-cornered smartphone.

    Who in their right mind would want to work for a company that gives itself state-level police rights without a warrant ?

    Not me.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Apple is not a company I would want to work for

      Some companies do hire tough looking security often in paramilitary uniforms which then perform searches or generally appear visible and mean. This is to manipulate workers so they can think they do something exciting, dangerous, important etc. some even enjoy being searched, so they can prove they are loyal to the mighty corporation.

    2. runt row raggy

      Re: Apple is not a company I would want to work for

      ianl, but in general you can't sign a contract that gives away basic constitutional rights, or allows one to break the law. two people can't sign a contract that one can kill the other, and then it's not murder. so without any direct knowledge of the relevant CA statues and federal code, it seems highly unlikely that such a search wouldn't be prosecuted as a crime.

      not that I'm arguing apple security is reasonable.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now, is it just Apple that dictate the law on unions?

    Anyone want to find a union clause in Big Blue's working contracts for the UK?

    Oh! There it is.

    "IBM does not recognise any unionised collective bargaining"

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm. Two big complaints about a company the size of Apple and neither of them a class action with multiple participants.

    Chip on the shoulder whiners, methinks, who feel rather entitled to perks and benefits they're not.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'd agree. There are two sides to this.

      Reading the submissions so far, the accounts don't seem balanced - they come across as disgruntled.

      Did not get promotion, from second hand info, is all the evidence of racism.

      Had an office affair is abuse of power. They themselves identify as being compliant. If they had reported these things before or during coerced participation I'd understand.. This seems like a mistake, and yes perhaps child abuse makes them predisposed to such mistakes, but then I think get treatment to be able to voice your actual intents.

      But you can't say yes and then after the fact say you didn't really mean yes, how are people around you supposed to process anything you say or do? How is the company supposed to, when you are given more responsibilities and you say you didn't really mean to spend $1m on chocolates for the team but felt "compelled" and "cornered" by their reports (because of a child abuse past)?

      None of the accounts show the self-awareness required for moving up the ladder. Of course discrimination should not play a role, but the accounts do not prove it. None show pervasive behaviours, they are all separate individual accounts without a pattern.

      The other is about pay, which is not about illegal HR behaviour.

      So right now it is some digruntled employees stunt that the media is magnifying. Nothing stopped this employee having these discussions on any private chat tool, I am unclear if the californian law requires the employer to sponsor and host such "protected concerted activity". For eg does the employer legally have to buy pizza (or caviar) for a labour union meeting?

  7. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Not surprised

    I'm not surprised at all; Apple has been well known, clear back to the 1980s to have what I'd consider excessive corporate security. Almost every project is secret, you are not to talk to coworkers about what you are doing; you don't talk about your managers because that may leak info about management hierarchy; for all I know this was level of secrecy alone may end up with pay discepencies, simply because group A doesn't know what group B is paying.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Work for the devil...

    ... expect to get burnt in hell.

  9. mevets

    old industry joke...

    Why does ${COMPANY_X} pay so much?

    Because it has to.

    The company pays you a fat wage; and a signing bonus, and a pile of RSUs for a very simple reason -- they have purchased your agency. While it might be cloaked in rituals of the mad obsession over irrelevant details ( a preemptive defense against whistleblowers ) or your shiny "Class of 2021" T-Shirt; it is the underlying story.

    I don't think misunderstanding what you signed up for is really actionable.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stay in your lane plebs

    Working for us is a privilege. Acess to your personal social media is required for you to progress up the ladder.

    You knew what you were getting into.

    You didn't? Well, that's your fault because I did.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    She's a lawyer in training for the last three years..

    OK, so we have some project manager from bloody Portland Oregon who lands a job at Apple and by the sound of it has not the slightest idea how the high tech business actually works. Or that Apple in Curpetino is a shark pool. She sounds very much like several project managers I have had to foist onto other hapless teams over the decades. Let them deal with the inevitable missed ship dates and psycho-dramas. I am not going to deal with that crap ever again. Once is enough.

    Normally Apple is like MS et al. Whatever the charge they are guilty. Dont need to hear the details. But knowing both Portland and it denizens for close on three decades by this stage in a Portlander v Big Nasty Corp I automatically assume it is the utterly clueless Portlander who is in the wrong. Anyone who knew Portland 30 years ago and seen what has been done to that one nice city by the recent incomers (who drove out the natives) will understand why.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I had a similar experience....

    ...a few years ago when I worked for an American company, who at the time has a two letter abbreviated name. I was working late one evening, way past my contracted finishing time. I was waiting for a call back from the states and was shooting the breeze with another employee and our private conversation included talking about pay. We were in a part of the building that we normally did not visit and unknown to us an HR droid was two cubicles away and overheard our conversation (I later learned). The next day both me and my fellow employee were called to our respective managers offices and given a severe bollocking. I couldn't believe it and from that day forward I lost all respect for the company and decided to look elsewhere for employment.

  13. Greybeard_ITGuy

    "The letter goes on make a number of requests, such as an end to Apple strong-arming its staff into syncing their personal iCloud accounts with their work devices – a move that grants Apple bosses and legal teams deep access into their employees' personal lives."

    Sorry, I don't have an iCloud account, nor social media. Seriously... what the holy heck is this about?

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