Apple fired the leader of #AppleToo for not complying with an internal investigation on October 14th. Janneke Parrish was an employee who has worked behind the scenes for months in order to organize other employees who have been subject to harassment and discrimination.
Apple seems to be retaliating against those efforts, claiming that it is trying to prevent internal information being leaked to the media. Apple fired Ashley Gjvik in September for violating her confidentiality agreement. Apple then placed Cher Scarlett, a software engineer, on medical leave.
Gjvik and Scarlett both filed claims with NLRB. Vincent P. White, White, Hilferty, and Albanese, Parrish's lawyer, says that Parrish intends to sue for wrongful termination. He will also file a charge with NLRB.
Parrish spoke to The Verge about her organizing efforts as well as the circumstances surrounding her termination.
Let me know what the past few months have been for you. Did you start internal advocacy using the Antonio Garca Martnez letters?
Janneke Parrish (Yes, that was it). It was the first time I saw employee activism at Apple. At the time, I was part of the remote advocacy Slack channel. I wanted people to make the best choices about where and how they work.
We saw with the Antonio Garca Martnez Letter that activism can work and that executives may listen to us. This led to more letters being sent by remote workers asking for flexibility regarding where they work. However, we did not receive the same response. The response was basically, "We think it would be more to be back at the office."
While employee advocacy is important in helping to make our voices heard it has a limit on what we can do internally. You might be better off not speaking to people you don't want to hear.
Cher Scarlett and you met when you started working on #AppleToo together.
Cher was working with pay advocacy while I was doing remote advocacy. Our common need to advocate for pay equity led us to each other and we made #AppleToo.
I was the leader of the employee stories section, telling stories about workers who have been discriminated against and abused. We reached out to them through the channels Apple recommends but we were not heard. This is the story of remote advocacy that's being told at a macro level across the entire company. We are constantly ignored and undervalued.
Apple doesn't need to know how much I lost at GameStop.
I don't know how someone can look at so many stories and not do anything.
That's what I have been doing.
What have been the results? You seem to have not received the same internal pushback as Cher or Ashley.
I have received many supportive messages and not as much criticism. I don't know why.
Im a program manager. I'm not an engineer and I work in a department with less visibility than theirs. I work in Maps and it doesn't have the same visibility. I continue to keep my self out of the spotlight.
I'm in Austin, not California. Apples arguments about returning to the office are primarily California-centric, and don't apply to Texas. They talk about meeting people in the hallways. I have never met Austin execs!
What date did the investigation begin?
You were able to see the live stream of the town hall on September 18th. After the town hall, Tim Cook sent a memo saying that he was disappointed and would find the leakers. Apple began investigating the matter immediately after receiving that memo.
I was summoned to a meeting with HR, global security, and informed that I was being investigated as a leaker. Although my devices were confiscated, I had deleted any apps that contained personal information such as Robinhood before they were. Apple does not need to know how much I lost at GameStop. My job is to work on political campaigns. Democratic campaign information must be kept secret.
Before I turned in the devices, I had removed the information. I was offered a loaner and asked to keep working.
Global security and HR reached me again on October 8th. They said that I was being suspended. They also took loaner devices from me and deactivated my internal accounts. I was mid-conversation when my internal accounts were deactivated.
I believe that I was fired as a retaliation to speaking out
This also set me back in my career. It is not surprising that this happened to me at all. Maps employees work with sensitive information and it is crucial for us to keep our secrets secret. My career in Maps was ended even though I was being investigated.
On Thursday, global security and HR called me to inform me that I was terminated because I deleted the files.
Why did you put that personal information on your work computer?
Maps allows users to try out new features and maps. My role was program manager for tools. I had to ensure that our tools worked properly. I found that using my work phone as a personal device gave me the opportunity to try things out in the field. This is something we are encouraged to do. Apple encourages you to connect [your personal and work devices]. This seemed completely legal when I received my first phone. In hindsight, this probably wasn't the case.
How do you feel about being fired?
I believe that I was fired because I spoke out about #AppleToo and because I was trying to help other employees share their stories. This is a direct retaliation to my efforts to expose Apple's actions and to publicly ask them to improve.
What is #AppleToo doing now that you've been fired, and Cher has gone on medical leave?
It is not something I believe in. It says a lot about Apple and its priorities that an employee would rather be fired for asking for improvement than being fired. I believe that Apple's decision is positive and will be embraced by all. My goal is to make Apple better. It seems that Apple is less interested than I am in this.