One of two recognized leaders of an employee activist group within Apple has been fired.
Janneke Parrish was a programme manager at Apple Maps in Austin, Texas. She said that she was fired on Thursday. She is one of the co-founders of an employee group that this summer opened an #AppleToo website and began publishing former and current Apple employees’ stories about harassment and discrimination on Medium.
It is retaliation. Parrish stated that one does not speak casually against Apple and expect it to be ignored. Her firing was first reported in an interview with The Verge.
More than 500 people have come forward about workplace issues, Parrish and Cher Scarlett, another Apple employee who helped start the group, told The New York Times, which also confirmed Parrish’s firing.
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Parrish said an internal investigation at Apple began last month after audio of an all-staff meeting with CEO Tim Cook was leaked to The Verge and The New York Times. Parrish said that she was informed by the company that she had leaked the feed. Parrish said she was fired on October 8. Then on Oct. 14, Parrish said she was told she was fired for deleting files on the company devices she had turned in.
Parrish claimed that “I believe when I was under investigation that that was a pretext in order to find something which they could use to terminate me.” “Prior to turning in my devices, though, I did remove some of my personal data from these devices, because well, my private conversations … those are those are not Apple’s business. Similar to the above, financial data I have on Robinhood apps is not Apple’s. The reason I was terminated was because I deleted all files from my devices and turned them in.
In response to a query about Parrish’s firing, Apple sent a statement to USA TODAY: “We are and have always been deeply committed to creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive workplace. We take all concerns seriously and we thoroughly investigate whenever a concern is raised and, out of respect for the privacy of any individuals involved, we do not discuss specific employee matters.”
Apple’s latest employee concern is the subject of this incident. Parrish’s dismissal was preceded by her comments in an article published by The Washington Post on Scarlett who is currently on medical leaves from Apple. The Washington Post confirmed Parrish’s firing.
In that story, Scarlett said she had attempted to look into whether there was a pay gap for Apple employees across the country, which angered some other employees. She said some used the company’s internal Slack channel to accuse her of leaking confidential information to reporters – something Scarlett told the Post she hadn’t done.
Because of her injuries, she hired a lawyer to help her.
Apple also recently fired Ashley Gjovik after she filed workplace complaints with state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as well as National Labor Relations Board.
In documents Gjovik shared with Bloomberg, Apple claimed the senior engineering program manager was terminated for violating policies including disclosure of confidential product information. Gjovik said she was fired in retaliation for complaints about workplace health issues and subsequent harassment for making them public.
The #AppleToo movement arose from employee outcry over Apple’s May 2021 hiring of Antonio García Martínez, a former Facebook product manager and author of the book “Chaos Monkeys.”
A letter signed by more than 2,000 employees and forwarded to Apple management, expressed concerns about “misogynistic statements in his autobiography – such as ‘Most women in the Bay Area are soft and weak, cosseted and naïve despite their claims of worldliness, and generally full of shit,” The Verge reported at the time.
Parrish stated that this was the moment when we realized employee activism can make a real difference and that solidarity among ourselves could help to improve our work at Apple. But issues of remote work advocacy – including employees’ ability to advance if not at Apple’s Cupertino, California headquarters – and pay equity “did not get a positive response from leadership,” she said.
Vincent White, an attorney with White, Hilferty and Albanese, New York City, stated that Parrish intends to file federal complaints and perhaps even submit them to federal agencies. He stated that Apple had forgotten about the fact that, regardless of how rich your company may be, it is still possible for the government to slap anyone who offends its laws.
Parrish posted on Twitter Friday that “There are consequences for speaking out. It is possible to do the right thing, but there are also consequences. However, we choose to do the right things because they are the right thing. #AppleToo is asking Apple for better results, in order to eliminate systemic discrimination and abuse, as well as pay inequity.
Follow Mike Snider Twitter @mikesnider
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