Former Apple employee claims Tim Cook email in conflict with federal labor law

Yahoo Finance’s Allie Garfinkle joins the Live show to discuss a former Apple employee’s lawsuit against the tech giant.

Video Transcript


- The US labor watchdog is now recommending Apple settle with its former employees, according to reporting by "Bloomberg." Now, this comes after its board found evidence supporting claims of harassment and the suppression of worker unions. "Yahoo Finance's," Allie Garfinkle, has the latest. Allie, another development for unions here.

ALLIE GARFINKLE: Another development for unions here definitely, Richelle. So this is actually kind of a different sort of labor story we have coming out of Apple. The NLRB here has, essentially, ruled that Apple's policies as they currently exist are violating workers' rights.


Now, what does this mean? So what the NLRB is basically saying is that Apple's higher-ups and their imposition of strict confidentiality rules are what violate and limit collective action, that they're even coercive. Now, what is this really all about here? It's really all about how Apple is paranoid about employees leaking information is what we're getting.

At the center of this all is a whistleblower who's in the midst of a lawsuit with Apple. Her name is Ashley Gjovik, and she used to be a senior engineer program manager at Apple. As part of her case, she submitted a number of documents, including a rather newsworthy email from Tim Cook.

The email basically says to workers, hey, here's the deal, we don't want you leaking. We are actually looking for places where you are leaking. So there's been no comment from Gjovik or Apple so far. However, based on the complaint and the ruling, it seems like they're also on the hunt to identify and fire anyone who's leaking confidential information. You see it here from this 2021 email that Gjovik leaked. "We know that leakers constitute a small number of people. We know that people who leak confidential information do not belong here."

Apple has been the good guy in the tech unionization story so far in certain ways, especially because they've been the first to come to the table with workers in their house in Maryland, in their house in Maryland store. However, this also comes after the NLRB's December ruling that Apple illegally interfered with elections in both New York and Atlanta.

So where does this all leave us? In the end, I think it's important to remember that the NLRB has no ability whatsoever to impose punitive damages. However, this does also show that the NLRB is really not letting this go. And it also, I think, gives credence to the claim that Apple is surveilling its employees right on the edge of legality, and sometimes it appears they're crossing the line.

- We'll certainly be following in that story. Interesting to see how that plays out. As you mentioned, given Apple's appearance at least of being first to come to the table when it comes to these unionization pushes. Great stuff there. Allie Garfinkle, thank you so much.