Apple becomes subject of Labor Department investigation


Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

The US Department of Labor has opened an investigation into Apple amid growing criticism from employees about workplace conduct at the tech giant.

The Labor Department didn’t immediately respond to a query about what prompted its investigation, which was first reported by The Financial Times. But former Apple engineering manager Ashley Gjovik, who had previously complained about a hostile work environment at the iPhone maker, told CNET that she filed the whistle-blower complaint because she wanted justice for herself and to protect other Apple employees.

Gjovik filed a complaint with the US National Labor Relations Board in August detailing how she had been harassed and retaliated against. The next month, she said she had been fired by Apple after months of publicly discussing harassment from co-workers, managers and Apple’s administrative teams.

“Apple retaliated against me with such impunity, it seemed like they thought they’d never be held accountable,” she said. “I want to ensure the world sees that even the biggest company in the world isn’t immune from accountability.”

Gjovik is one of at least two Apple employees who’ve filed complaints with government authorities over harassment and work culture issues in the past couple of months.

The complaints come as the tech giant faces a wave of employee activism in recent months. In August, employees criticized Apple’s move to scan US customers’ iPhones and computers for images of child sex abuse, worrying it could lead to censorship or arrest by repressive governments. In July, employees began circulating an internal petition pressing executives for more flexible working conditions as the company began laying out post-lockdown return-to-work polices.

Apple, which has previously declined to discuss individual employee matters, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.