Apple fired an #AppleToo organizer for deleting files from her phone

Files like Pokémon Go and Google Drive.

Apple Computer's new Apple Park headquarters features a natural colorful outdoor auditorium in the c...
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Apple has fired Janneke Parrish, a program manager who helped launch the #AppleToo movement, as part of a larger investigation about leaks at the company. Parrish was fired for deleting files off her work devices during the ongoing investigation, which goes against Apple’s internal employee policies. The deleted files included, amongst other things, popular apps like Google Drive, Pokémon Go, and Robinhood, The Verge reports.

Late this summer, Parrish helped create and launch #AppleToo, an employee-led movement meant to bring more scrutiny to how Apple treats its staff. The movement has already led hundreds of employees to reach out with stories of sexism, retaliation, and discrimination.

Parrish’s large part in the organizing of #AppleToo makes it difficult not to see her firing as union-busting retaliation. That’s the view of a number of Apple employees, too.

Is this…legal? — The news of Parrish’s firing comes hot on the heels of similar action taken against Ashley Gjøvik, a senior engineering program manager. Gjørvik was told her position had been terminated for leaking insider information, though she couldn’t figure out what exactly she had leaked. When Gjørvik was finally presented with the evidence Apple had against her, it amounted to a selfie, and email screenshots containing already-public information about an ongoing Apple research program.

This week, Gjøvik also made public a case she has been working on with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that alleges Apple is actually breaking the law by making its anti-leaking policies so strict. Around the same time Gjøvik was fired, CEO Tim Cook sent out an all-staff memo promising to hunt down any leakers. “People who leak confidential information do not belong at Apple,” Cook wrote.

Union-stomping — The tech industry as a whole is generally unfriendly to employee organization and unionization, but Apple’s efforts to quell organizing activities have become notoriously harsh even in that context. When employees attempted to pass around a survey about pay transparency, for example, Apple shut the effort down immediately.

That’s why Parrish and her co-worker Cher Scarlett started #AppleToo: so employees could share their stories without fear of retaliation. But now Parrish has been fired and Scarlett is on paid medical leave for harassment she faced while advocating for pay transparency.

Apple has made it clear that it’s very much against both leaks and any attempts to organize within the company; Parrish’s firing could be related to either or both. If Apple’s going to fire people for leaking company information, though, it would be useful for some transparency around what information, exactly, has been leaked. Deleting Pokémon Go from a phone doesn’t seem like an action that necessitates firing... nor is it a good excuse for taking that sort of action.