- Two former senior Apple employees have filed separate lawsuits accusing the company of discrimination based on age and gender.
- The two women allege a culture at Apple’s male-dominated headquarters that has allowed demeaning and retaliatory behavior to go unchecked.
- The accusations come amid an unprecedented wave of activism among Apple employees.
A former Apple employee is suing the company over gender discrimination and retaliation, adding legal problems as more employees publicly oppose a culture of secrecy regarding issues on the market. workplace.
In an unprecedented lawsuit filed at the end of June against Apple in Santa Clara County, former high-level engineer Catherine Vartuli claims to have been penalized, the victim of discrimination and retaliation after discovering and reporting to her manager that she was being paid less half that of his male peers.
Vartuli’s lawsuit is part of a string of recent accusations against the iPhone maker that it has built a culture of secrecy that penalizes employees who speak out against harassment and discrimination in the workplace. In recent months, a movement among Apple employees known as AppleToo has seen Apple employees speak out with allegations of an often toxic work culture – a rarity in the famous secret business. Last week, the company fired one of the organizers of this movement, Janneke Parrish; he also fired program manager Ashley Gjovik this summer after accusing the company on social media of mismanaging its allegations of harassment and workplace safety concerns.
Vartuli’s lawsuit is not the only one filed this year by a former employee against the company. In February, CFO Bernadette Alexander sued the company, alleging ageism and retaliation.
Apple did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Vartuli, who joined Apple in 2015, claims in her lawsuit that she discovered, through the disclosure of her male peers, that she was being paid half or less of what they earned in total compensation, mostly thanks to the how Apple applied its equity.
In emails with Insider, Vartuli said she complained about the pay gap to her manager in the spring of 2019 and was investigated shortly thereafter. In June 2019, Apple accused Vartuli of using her business laptop for personal gain, then fired her without severance pay on July 5, claiming she violated Apple’s business conduct policy. and employee usage. He did not explain the reason for his dismissal, according to documents filed along with the complaint. She also told Insider that her manager gave her a “very positive” performance review shortly before her dismissal. She also claims to have lost inventory with a current estimated value of $ 1.2 million.
Vartuli also told Insider that his segment at Apple, which was separated from the main campus because it was working on secret projects, was almost entirely made up of men. She said she was one of three female managers in her group of about 300 workers and the highest ranked woman in the entire group, with 19 direct reports.
“Often in the meetings I attended, there were 2-5 women out of 30-40 people,” Vartuli said. The company’s total workforce is 34% women, according to its latest diversity report.
Along with his allegations of gender discrimination, Vartuli is suing Apple for retaliation and unfair dismissal.
Multiple, neglected complaints
Alexander, the CFO who filed a lawsuit earlier this year against Apple through the same lawyer as Vartuli, says the cases of ageism and harassment have been ignored and dismissed. She was fired last Thursday after more than 13 years at Apple.
Alexander said in his trial her experience within the company took a turn in 2017 when she received a new director who expressed her preference for “younger” workers. Alexander, who is 60, says his manager told him to hire younger workers than the older ones, even if they didn’t have the appropriate level of experience. He allegedly told her, “I only hire young people. They are hungry, fast and cheaper.
In February 2019, Alexander said her manager called her into her office and told her that her 10-year work anniversary meant it was ‘time’ for her to transfer and that she needed to leave her post immediately. of director. She was to be replaced by one of three candidates already under consideration, each at least 10 years younger than her, according to the complaint.
Ageism complaints in the department were known to senior officials and HR, according to Alexander’s lawsuit. When she first went to HR in 2018 to report her issue with this manager, Alexander says HR manager Meenal Kulkarni was already aware of the issue.
This type of age-based voice discrimination was also common within Apple’s larger financial department, according to Alexander.
In May 2019, Alexander attended an annual meeting of Apple’s global finance team where she said comments about the age of workers had been openly made by other executives, such as “Is there a there any top-ranking managers that should go to one of our promising youngsters? ? “and” We need to build a young bench with young talent and we need to make sure that [restricted stock units] rewards are given to them ”, according to the lawsuit.
John Winer, an attorney for Vartuli and Alexander, said he felt “strongly” that the two cases would prevail against Apple because the two women were so “blatantly” discriminated against.
Apple claims to be non-discriminatory in its compensation and promotion decisions, but based on what we’ve seen happen to these two talented and hardworking women, as well as other customers over the years, the culture at Apple favors younger men over older women, ”Winer said. “Both women worked hard enough and well enough to deserve the same pay, respect and advancement as their younger male counterparts, but it doesn’t work that way at Apple or most other big companies. technologies of Silicon Valley. “
Apple has yet to officially respond to either lawsuit.
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