Apple worker who led protest movement is leaving after settlement

Cher Scarlett, an Apple engineer who created a protest movement within the company over pay transparency and other workplace issues, is leaving the iPhone maker after reaching a settlement. 

Scarlett wouldn’t provide details about the settlement, but her lawyer said she is requesting a withdrawal of a complaint she filed with the National Labor Relations Board. In a Sept. 1 filing with the agency, Scarlett alleged that Apple human resources had interfered with efforts by employees to gather wage data, and that management had “engaged in coercive and suppressive activity that has enabled abuse and harassment” of workers organizing.

“The matter was settled privately and the request for withdrawal is pending before the board,” Scarlett’s lawyer, Alek Felstiner, told Bloomberg News. “We hope the crucial organizing work at Apple will continue.”

Scarlett said her departure from Apple was voluntary and that her last day is Friday. Other Apple workers who publicly raised concerns about working conditions — including Ashley Gjovik and Janneke Parrish — were fired after speaking out and have filed their own recent labor board complaints. Apple said both of those former employees were terminated for sharing private information. 

Apple declined to comment about Scarlett’s departure. The company has said previously it doesn’t comment on specific cases “out of respect for the privacy of any individuals involved.”

For several months, Scarlett had been a leader in a movement inside Apple via Slack channels and other forms of social media that came to be known as #AppleToo — a riff on #MeToo. It spurred many staffers to speak out online about conditions, both publicly and anonymously. The protest was a rarity inside a company known for keeping employees quiet about their work. 

Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook expressed frustration in a September memo about employees leaking information. His email followed media reports about a companywide internal meeting at which management fielded questions about pay equity and Texas’ anti-abortion law, as well as reports that revealed details of a product launch event ahead of time.

In a filing with the NLRB, Gjovik alleged that Cook’s email and various Apple employee handbook policies violated the National Labor Relations Act, which protects U.S. workers’ rights to communicate with one another and engage in collective action about workplace issues.

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