Tech giant Apple previously told the SEC that it does not attempt to silence employees in relation to workplace harassment or discrimination, but a whistleblower's nondisclosure agreement is bringing new scrutiny to this claim.
Business Insider reports that on October 18, tech giant Apple made a number of statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) including claims that the company does not attempt to silence former employees or whistleblowers in relation to the company's working conditions.
Now, a new nondisclosure agreement given to a company whistleblower is bringing greater scrutiny to these claims. Apple's lawyers reportedly wanted former engineer Cher Scarlett to state only the following words upon her departure from the company: "After 18 months at Apple, I've decided it is time to move on and pursue other opportunities."
This language was included in an extremely strict nondisclosure and non-disparagement agreement as part of a separation agreement that Apple offered Scarlett last month. Scarlett, who spent months working to improve pay equity at Apple allegedly resulting in harassment and intimidation from the company, said that when she received the nondisclosure agreement she was "shocked."
She added: "In my mind, I should be able to say whatever I want as long as I'm not defaming Apple." Scarlett refused to sign the gag order but was reminded of the agreement upon seeing Apple's statements to the SEC.
Apple claimed that when it comes to NDAs "in the context of harassment, discrimination, and other unlawful acts," its "policy is to not use such clauses." Scarlett filed a whistleblower complaint with the SEC on October 25 in which she claims Apple made "false statements or misleading statements" to the SEC.
Scarlett included a copy of the settlement agreement that Apple offered her in the SEC complaint and described how the company included a "statement I was allowed to say about my leaving the company being a personal decision, rather than fleeing a hostile work environment after attempting to exercise my rights and help others organize" under federal labor laws.
Scarlett further shared the NDA from Apple with Nia Impact Capital, the activist investor that is aiming to force a shareholder vote around transparency on NDAs at Apple. Nia informed the SEC this week that it had "received information, confidentially provided, that Apple has sought to use concealment clauses in the context of discrimination, harassment, and other workplace labor violation claims."
Read more at Business Insider here.
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