Apple fired senior engineering program manager Ashley Gjøvik, alleging she violated the company’s rules against leaking confidential information.
However, the firing comes after Gjøvik spent months tweeting about allegations of harassment, surveillance and workplace safety. Gjøvik says she began raising concerns in March 2021 and faced “retaliation and intimidation” from Apple.
“I’m disappointed that a company I have loved since I was a little girl would treat their employees this way,” Gjøvik told The Verge.
Gjøvik started by raising concerns about her office, located in an Apple building on a superfund site. That means it requires special oversight due to historical waste contamination. When Gjøvik raised those safety concerns, she said she faced harassment and bullying from her manager and other team members.
Recently, Gjøvik began raising concerns about Apple’s policies on how it can search and surveil employees’ work phones. That included an accusation that Apple previously forced her to hand over all her text messages, including “fully personal” items such as nude pictures. Gjøvik said that Apple stored those pictures in its “permanent evidence locker.”
Apple placed Gjøvik on administrative leave in early August while it investigated her concerns. Gjøvik says she requested leave only as a last resort.
The saga culminated on September 9th when a member of Apple’s employee relations team reached out to Gjøvik. The team member was looking into a sensitive intellectual property matter, according to The Verge, and wanted to speak with Gjøvik within the hour.
Gjøvik said she wanted to keep all communications in writing and noted she was forwarding the correspondence to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Gjøvik had recently filed a charge with the NLRB, citing harassment by a manager, reduced responsibilities and increased unfavourable work.
However, Apple’s employee relations team responded, saying that because Gjøvik had chosen not to participate in the discussion, they would move forward with the information they had. Further, Gjøvik’s access to Apple systems was suspended “given the seriousness of these allegations.”
Within hours, Gjøvik received an email informing her that Apple had terminated her employment.
Those curious can read through the entire saga on Gjøvik’s website, where she has extensively documented emails and communications with Apple alongside her own tweets about what was going on.
Apple, however, maintains that it takes concerns seriously, telling The Verge in a statement:
“We are and have always been deeply committed to creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive workplace. We take all concerns seriously and we thoroughly investigate whenever a concern is raised and, out of respect for the privacy of any individuals involved, we do not discuss specific employee matters.”