After months of mixed messages over whether they could talk about their wages, Apple has explicitly told employees they are free to talk about the money they make, their hours, or their working conditions.
On Saturday, NBC News reported that the tech giant had clarified its stance around these issues in a memo to staff posted on one of its internal sites. The move was made in light of employee actions around pay equity in recent months, including launching a number of surveys and a Slack channel on the topic as well as uniting under the #AppleToo movement, even though Apple maintains that there is no disparity.
Despite Apple’s insistence that pay equity is a non-issue at the company, and its resistance to employee actions on the matter, talking about salaries and job conditions is protected under federal law. Apple’s memo was confirmed by the New York Times and other outlets.
About 80,000 of the company’s salaried and hourly employees in the U.S. have access to the internal site where the memo was posted, according to NBC.
“Our policies do not restrict employees from speaking freely about their wages, hours, or working conditions,” the memo said. “We encourage any employee with concerns to raise them in the way they feel most comfortable, internally or externally, including through their manager, any Apple manager, People Support, People Business Partner, or Business Conduct.”
Gizmodo reached out to Apple on Saturday to confirm the legitimacy of the memo and ask for additional comment on the matter, but we did not receive a response by the time of publication. We’ll make sure to update this blog if we hear back.
Although the company had stated in an October 2020 edition of its business conduct policy that nothing in said document should be interpreted “as being restrictive of [employee] rights to speak freely” about their wages, hours, or working conditions, recent actions by Apple gave the opposite impression.
In August, Cher Scarlett, a principal software engineer at Apple, told Gizmodo that the company had stymied three efforts to carry out a pay transparency survey among employees. At that time, the company said the surveys were an improper collection of employee data. Scarlett went on to file a complaint about Apple’s actions with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that the company “engaged in coercive and suppressive activity that has enabled abuse and harassment of organizers of protected concerted activity.”
Meanwhile, in September, Apple declined a request by activists and shareholders to edit its employment agreements to make it clear that workers can speak about their employment conditions, the Verge reported, citing that such language was already in its business conduct policy.
In recent days, Scarlett withdrew her NLRB complaint after reaching a settlement with Apple, the details of which were not made public, and said she was leaving the company.