Lawyers for Apple spelled out exactly what they wanted engineer Cher Scarlett to say after she left the company, limiting her words to "After 18 months at Apple, I've decided it is time to move on and pursue other opportunities."
She told Insider that the language in the separation agreement Apple offered her was ridiculous.
"I was shocked, I spent months working to improve pay equity at Apple, which I say prompted harassment from colleagues and intimidation from the company," said Scarlett. I should be able to say whatever I want as long as I'm not defaming Apple.
When Apple made a series of startling statements to the SEC on October 18th, the gag order was fresh on her mind.
Apple told the SEC that it does not use such clauses in the context of harassment, discrimination, and other unlawful acts. Attorneys for Apple argued that the company had addressed the concerns of activist shareholders.
She filed a complaint with the SEC because of her experience with Apple. Insider has reviewed the complaint and it shows that Apple made false statements to the agency.
The settlement agreement Apple offered her was included in her SEC complaint, and she described how the company included a statement she was allowed to say about her leaving the company being a personal decision, rather than fleeing a hostile work environment after attempting to exercise her rights and help others organize.
Apple offered a non-disclosure agreement to Scarlett in exchange for her support of a shareholder vote on transparency in the company's non-disclosure agreements. The SEC was told on Monday that Apple had sought to use concealment clauses in the context of discrimination, harassment, and other workplace labor violation claims.
Monday evening, she said that she was the source of the information.
"I knew that the SEC filing was a lie and I wanted to hold them accountable for that," she said, adding that she does not expect to receive future scheduled payments as part of her settlement agreement with Apple now that she has broken its nondisclosure terms. The money that would come in a year isn't worth it.
Apple did not reply to the request for comment.
Apple has responded to employee organizing by condemning a series of recent leaks to the press. Apple employees have the right to discuss pay and working conditions, according to an internal memo posted last week.
The memo said that the policies did not restrict employees from speaking about their working conditions. When she filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board over the summer, she described Apple's decision as the best-case scenario after months of work by her and others at the company.
Insider documented the extent to which nondisclosure agreements blanket Silicon Valley. The broad language used to silence employees, including at Apple, was revealed in the review of dozens of confidential NDAs shared by tech workers. Insider asked Apple if it had ever pursued legal action against a former employee over an alleged violation of the nondisclosure agreement.
The Apple spokesman did not reply.
On the heels of the whistle blowing by Scarlett, the CEO of the company said her firm is seeking further review from the SEC on its shareholder proposal, including a review of Apple and HR complaints.
"This mess with the SEC doesn't make any sense, and the disclosures made by Scarlett show that efforts to silence former employees at the company are happening," Hull said.
The language that kicked off Nia's initial request was organized by Ifeoma Ozoma, a former employee who alleged the company engaged in racial and gender discrimination. The Silenced No More Act will take effect in California in 2022.
"Anything in this agreement can be used to discuss or disclose information about unlawful acts in the workplace, such as harassment or discrimination or any other conduct that you have reason to believe is unlawful," it reads.
The language in the settlement agreement was not included by Apple. As she began her first week as a former Apple employee, she said she hopes that the protections afforded to employees in California by the Silenced No More Act will be extended globally.
Who can we hold accountable the biggest company in the world?