Multiple federal agencies are investigating complaints by a former Apple employee. The tech giant recently fired senior manager Ashley Gjovik after she reported alleged workplace issues at Apple. Since the spring, Gjovik had spoken out about perceived patterns of harassment, bullying, sexism, and retaliation. She reported these concerns to authorities within the company, while also publicly tweeting about them. Some of her tweets contained emails and other media, which may have frustrated her employer, although she redacted certain information.
Apple put Gjovik on administrative leave in August and fired her in September. The notice of her termination alleged that she leaked confidential information related to Apple products, without providing details. Gjovik believes that she was fired as illegal retaliation for her whistleblowing efforts.
The former senior manager filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, which will determine whether her allegations are legitimate. If the NLRB finds that they are, the agency will bring a complaint against Apple. In addition, Gjovik has filed a complaint with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. She alleged that her office is located on a Superfund site, which is an area contaminated by hazardous waste. OSHA will review this complaint as well.
Meanwhile, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing have granted permission to Gjovik to file a civil lawsuit against her former employer. These agencies respond to complaints of discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
Even if the NLRB does not take action against Apple, Gjovik still may pursue a claim for compensation if she can prove that she was wrongfully terminated. Employment in California and most other states is generally at-will, meaning that either the employer or the employee can terminate the relationship at any time and for any reason. However, an employer may not fire an employee in retaliation for engaging in certain protected activities. These include reporting discrimination, harassment, or other illegal conduct in the workplace.
If her lawsuit moves forward, Apple likely will cite the intellectual property concerns stated in the termination notice as the reason for firing Gjovik. The former senior manager would need to prove that this reason was a pretext for an illegal retaliatory motive.
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