The US Department of Labor has agreed to investigate an Ashley Gjøvik complaint against Apple. The former senior engineering manager alleged that the Cupertino company treated her unfairly, before first suspending and finally dismissing her.
Gjøvik said that the saga began when she raised concerns over workplace safety in regard to previous contamination on the land beneath the building where she was based …
The former employee says that the company intimidated her for raising the concerns, then took various retaliatory actions against her when she persisted. She also accused the company of sexism in its treatment of her and other female employees.
Gjøvik and another Apple employee filed complaints with the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The board does not automatically investigate all such complaints, but the Financial Times reports that it has now agreed to do so in this case.
The US Department of Labor is investigating Apple over claims that it retaliated against an employee who complained of workplace harassment and unsafe working conditions […]
The labour department declined to comment, but confirmed its investigation in a letter to Gjovik seen by the Financial Times, dated December 10.
Stephen Kohn, an employment lawyer and an expert in US whistleblowing law, said the burden of proof needed for the agency to open an investigation was high, as the employee must have already established enough evidence that, unless rebutted, would prove the case.
Apple has a policy of declining to comment on issues relating to individual employees, but issued a brief statement to the FT:
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.
A former NLRB lawyer says that the board has a high threshold for opening investigations.
“Federal agencies exercise what in the context of criminal law is known as prosecutorial discretion,” said Michael Duff. “They are very careful of what cases they move forward because they have scarce resources, so they must have a strong reason to believe they can prevail.”
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