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Apple fires program manager who filed harassment charges

A blurry woman walks in front of the Apple store logo.

Photo: Sean Gallup (Getty Images)

Less than two weeks ago, Ashley Yovick filed a complaint with the US Labor Council, accusing her employer, Apple, of illegal harassment. She said she talked too much about her experiences of sexism and concerns about safety in the workplace. The company wanted it to stop.

Gjövik was fired on Thursday.

Gjovik is one of two employees who charges brought against Apple last month with the US National Labor Relations Board, alleging harassment and intimidation in company. (The agency investigates all allegations and pursues those it can substantiate.) Complaints follow a rare series employee activity at Apple, which emerged last month under the hashtag #AppleToo, is a clear nod to the 2017 Me Too movement, which toppled powerful people who had long defied allegations of misconduct.

Employees who said they wanted to expose patterns of discrimination and abuse at Apple said it worked. under the radar for too long.

In a letter explaining the decision, Apple accuses Gjövik, a former senior program manager of engineering, of disclosing “confidential product-related information,” adding that she “refused to cooperate” during the “investigative process.”

Gjövik, who publicly accused Apple of ignoring managerial harassment and exposing it to hostile working conditions, said by phone that she was not aware of the details of the “confidential information” she was accused of disclosing.

Apple was the one who ignored her attempts to collaborate, she said.

The company’s emails leaked to Gizmodo indicate that Apple contacted Gjövik via email Thursday afternoon asking to “contact” her “as soon as possible today.” “We are investigating a sensitive intellectual property issue that we would like to talk to you about,” said the first email she received.

“I am glad to help!” Gjövik responded after a few minutes with one caveat: she wanted to stick to email, “so please, everything must be written.”

Almost an hour passed. When Apple responded, it seemed like it completely ignored Gjövik’s request and her enthusiastic agreement to cooperate. “Since you decided not to participate in the discussion, we will advance the information we have, and given the seriousness of these allegations, we are suspending your access to Apple systems,” the response says.

Gjövik reiterated, “As mentioned, I am definitely willing to participate in your investigation,” adding, “I offered to help by email to make sure we have documented documents. [record] our conversations, taking into account everything that is currently happening with my investigation and my complaints to the government. “

Gjövik added: “I would very much like to be able to correct any urgent problems. Please let me know what the problem is so that I can make a good faith attempt to resolve the issue. ” She wrote that if the company continues to talk about the charges against it only vaguely, it will consider this as further evidence of retaliation.

Then Apple’s email responses stopped. After a few hours, she was out of work.

The termination letter shared with Gizmodo did not clarify anything. He reiterated the same ambiguous accusation and said that she “refused to cooperate and provide accurate and complete information in the course of Apple’s investigation.”

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

When speaking on the phone, Yovik’s voice was interrupted several times. “Apple has been my favorite company since childhood. It was [my] I dream of working for them, ”she said. “Even though I had a terrible experience, I feel like I did a really good job. Such an attitude towards me seems to be a betrayal. “

She still wasn’t surprised, Gjovik said. Since she began to voice concerns about workplace safety in March, her office has been built on superfund website this requires special permits due to the preliminary contamination with hazardous waste – she was preparing for a return strike.

“I was not going to be silent or slip away. I was going to stand up for myself and my colleagues, ”said Yovik. “I was going to reveal the identified systemic problems. I was going to arrange with the staff. I was going to demand the internal and public reporting of the largest company in the world. “

Her only desire, she said, is to “breach the universe” of Apple’s employment and employment policies.

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