COVID-19 has transformed the world of work forever.
Not only has remote working become more commonplace and accepted, but employees are more willing to hold their employers to account for workplace misconduct.
There has been a particular shift in the tech sector, which has historically seen high wages and non-disclosure agreements protect companies from employee scrutiny.
Apple employees seem to be leading the charge. They set up a group called AppleToo where workers can share their experiences of working at the tech company, and they have been very vocal in opposition of the company forcing them back into the office three days a week.
Although last week Apple made its first moves to allow and encourage employees to be more open about their grievances at work, the US Labor Department has now opened a whistleblower investigation into the tech giant.
Alleged retaliation at Apple
While the department did not share details about who requested the investigation or what it was about, it is clear the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Whistleblower Protection Program will carry out the probe into whether the tech giant broke any anti-retaliation rules.
The investigation is believed to be linked with a complaint filed by Ashley Gjovik, a former Apple employee who has been outspoken about workplace misconduct and claims that the tech giant retaliated against her more than a dozen times.
Gjovik was suspended and fired by Apple in September 2021, just six months after her first complaint about workplace safety concerns at the tech giant.
She showed a letter from the Labor Department that confirmed they would investigate her allegations against Apple to the Financial Times.
"Ashley Gjovik told CNET that she filed the US DOL whistleblower complaint because she wanted justice for herself and to protect other Apple employees." https://t.co/yf7cEpOCNz
— Ashley M. Gjøvik (@ashleygjovik) December 14, 2021
Talking about the case, Michael Duff, a former attorney at the National Relations Labor Board, told the Financial Times that Gjovik’s case was “especially unusual” and might see Apple accused of breaking three separate laws.
“Federal agencies exercise what in the context of criminal law is known as prosecutorial discretion,” he said. “They are very careful of what cases they move forward because they have scarce resources, so they must have a strong reason to believe they can prevail.”
Apple reiterated its previous statement about its workplace to both the Financial Times and the New York Times. The tech giant noted: “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.”
UNLEASH has reached out to Apple, but is yet to receive a response.