By Daniel Wiessner
(Reuters) – Apple Inc maintains workplace policies that unlawfully discourage employees from discussing working conditions, a U.S. labor agency has found.
The National Labor Relations Board will issue a complaint targeting the policies and claiming Apple executives made comments that stymied worker organizing unless the company settles first, an agency official said on Monday in an email reviewed by Reuters.
The official had sent the email to Ashley Gjovik, a former Apple senior engineering manager who filed complaints against the company in 2021.
The NLRB investigates charges filed by workers and unions and decides whether to issue formal complaints against companies. The agency can seek to strike down workplace policies and require employers to notify workers of legal violations.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment. The company has said it takes worker complaints seriously and thoroughly investigates them.
An NLRB spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Gjovik in an email on Tuesday said she hoped the development will spur more Apple workers to speak up about working conditions and to organize.
In her complaints, Gjovik said various Apple rules, including those relating to confidentiality and surveillance policies, deter employees from discussing issues such as pay equity and sex discrimination with each other and the media.
Gjovik also cited a 2021 email from Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook that allegedly sought to stop workers from speaking to the press and said “people who leak confidential information do not belong here.”
Many tech companies have strict confidentiality policies designed to protect trade secrets.
U.S. labor law prohibits policies that could discourage workers from exercising their right to band together to improve working conditions.
Apple is facing several pending NLRB complaints, including one claiming the tech giant unlawfully required workers at an Atlanta retail store to attend anti-union meetings. Apple has denied wrongdoing.
(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Bernadette Baum)