- A federal agency said it found evidence that Apple executives and company policy broke labor laws.
- The decision stems from cases filed by former employees who say Apple violated their rights.
- The NLRB will prosecute if Apple doesn’t settle with former employees who have raised complaints.
A companywide email sent by Apple CEO Tim Cook in 2021 may have violated federal law, according to The National Labor Relations Board.
In the email, Cook reportedly wrote that “people who leak confidential information do not belong here” and that Apple didn’t “tolerate disclosures of confidential information, whether it’s product IP or the details of a confidential meeting.”
The federal agency confirmed to Insider that it found merit that charges concerning statements by high-level executives at Apple, as well as company policies, violated the National Labor Relations Act.
A merit ruling means the agency has investigated complaints and found sufficient evidence to support them.
The NLRB also said some of Apple’s company policies tended to “interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of their right to protected concerted activity,” meaning the right to address work-related issues with coworkers.
According to Bloomberg, the federal agency’s assessment stemmed from cases brought by two former Apple employees, Ashley Gjovik and Cher Scarlett.
In an email to Insider, Gjovik asserted that Apple’s NDAs and policies about confidentiality and talking to the press “coercively silence Apple employees and chill them from engaging in protected activity through over-broad and vague terms, as well as through an implication of constant surveillance.”
Scarlett, who brought a separate complaint to the NLRB, told Insider, “Apple’s culture of secrecy encourages a toxic workplace that suppresses workers from organizing.”
Since the NLRB, a federal agency that protects the rights of private sector employees, found merit to these former employees’ complaints, its next step is to prosecute those charges if Apple doesn’t first settle with former employees who raised the objections.
Apple did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.