Apple won't make NDA exceptions for workplace harassment cases

Posted:
in General Discussion
A group of Apple shareholders is pressuring the company to exempt harassment and discrimination from employee nondisclosure agreements -- and the company is refusing the demands.

Credit: Laurenz Heymann/Unsplash
Credit: Laurenz Heymann/Unsplash


Earlier in September, a group representing Apple shareholders passed a resolution pressuring the company to make changes to its employment and non-disclosure agreements. Specifically, the group, which put forth a shareholder resolution Friday, wants Apple to make cases of workplace harassment and discrimination exceptions to the NDAs.

"Apple wisely uses concealment clauses in employment agreements to protect corporate information, such as intellectual capital and trade secrets," reads a proposal submitted to the Board of Directors. "However, Apple has not excluded from these clauses their workers' rights to speak openly about harassment, discrimination and other unlawful acts."

The proposal comes after the shareholder group asked Apple to except harassment and discrimination from its NDAs. The group told The Verge that Apple's lawyers refused the change, stating that the exceptions were already covered in Apple's Business Conduct Policy.

In recent months, some Apple employees have pointed out how the company's secrecy culture makes it difficult to discuss working conditions or wages at the Cupertino tech giant.

The proposal states that concealment clauses -- employment agreements that contain arbitration, nondisclosure, or non-disparagement elements -- are bad for the company's business because they don't allow shareholders to be confident in their knowledge of Apple's workplace.

"Investors have reason to be concerned with Apple, where allegations that the company retaliated against employees complaining of discrimination and potential labor law violations have led workers to organize under the banner #AppleToo," the group said.

Nia Impact Capital owns 38,921.34 shares of Apple, worth about $6 billion.

If Apple doesn't make the change voluntarily, then the resolution may go to a vote at the next shareholder meeting.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    38,921.34 is worth $6,026,191.0722.
  • Reply 2 of 23
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    Not exactly a sign of good things going on.
    darkvaderindieshack
  • Reply 3 of 23
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 1,203member
    As ridiculous as this stuff is, it’s not going away easily.  There’s a subculture out there that wants to bust the reigns of Apple management, sees an opening, and will do everything in their power to exploit it.  Where one attack fails, they’ll try another.  There’ll be a steep price to pay no matter which side comes out on top.

    This will be another in a long series of tests that Tim Cook will have to face to prove he’s worth his pay.  And good luck.
    9secondkox2
  • Reply 4 of 23
    crowley said:
    Not exactly a sign of good things going on.
    The understandable conclusion that many will draw from Apple's reported stand is that there are real skeletons in the cupboard. Who's been harassing who?
    elijahg
  • Reply 5 of 23
    ronnronn Posts: 662member
    crowley said:
    Not exactly a sign of good things going on.
    Protecting "trade secrets" is one thing. Protecting potential predators is another. Seems sensical and part of the identity that Apple presents to the public as a responsible corporate entity.
  • Reply 6 of 23
    I'm sure over here in Australia our workplace discrimination and harassment laws would override an NDA as I have seen other laws do.
    ronnFileMakerFeller9secondkox2
  • Reply 7 of 23
    I'm sure over here in Australia our workplace discrimination and harassment laws would override an NDA as I have seen other laws do.
    If the behavior reaches the level that it is criminal then the NDA would be void with respect to that behavior.
    FileMakerFeller9secondkox2
  • Reply 8 of 23

    "Apple won't make NDA exceptions for workplace harassment cases"...


    Until they do.

    Absolutes:  When it absolutely, positively, might, possibly, almost be the case...  until it isn't.

    - I am sorry about the text size...  copy-paste fail.  LOL -
    edited September 2021
  • Reply 9 of 23
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,770member
    JWSC said:
    As ridiculous as this stuff is, it’s not going away easily.  There’s a subculture out there that wants to bust the reigns of Apple management, sees an opening, and will do everything in their power to exploit it.  Where one attack fails, they’ll try another.  There’ll be a steep price to pay no matter which side comes out on top.

    This will be another in a long series of tests that Tim Cook will have to face to prove he’s worth his pay.  And good luck.
    Because every last case of harassment or discrimination at Apple is false. 
    9secondkox2
  • Reply 10 of 23
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 934member
    Probably best to let it litigate out to a judicially forced exception. Voluntarily opening it up could jeopardize the entire NDA structure. Threatening all their trade secrets via disgruntled former employees. 
  • Reply 11 of 23
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 934member
    These are legally binding documents approved by a court it's not as simple as apple releasing them it will have legal ramifications for apple and may void other legal protections they have such as voiding trade secrets or other disclosure agreements current and former employees signed.  

    Apple has no reason nor do the employees or courts have a single reason to release these as both parties signed them not under duress, in the right state of mind and could be reviewed by counsel before signing. 
    Agreed: it’s got to litigate out for a focused conclusion. Otherwise every NDA would be voided. A bad thing for restraining EC employees  on trade secrets, which is a valid, imho, use if the NDA. 
  • Reply 12 of 23
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 631member
    While those who regularly attack Apple think they should or release them are not familiar with how the legal system works. NDA’s exist to protect both parties. There are cases where egregious harassment does happen and then there is everything else. If the person being harassed wants money they need to sign the NDA or go to court where they will be brutalized win or lose. The opt out is an NDA and money. There are also marginal and fake claims that companies choose to buy their way out of. 

    Apple cannot disclose and most likely cannot agree to disclose once the agreement is signed. Nor can the other party. This is just like those who think the App Store commissions are too high. You cannot agree to something and then decide you do not like it and want it to change. 

    The fastest growing demographic is soft people who want the world to revolve around them.  
  • Reply 13 of 23
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    jimh2 said:
    While those who regularly attack Apple think they should or release them are not familiar with how the legal system works. NDA’s exist to protect both parties. There are cases where egregious harassment does happen and then there is everything else. If the person being harassed wants money they need to sign the NDA or go to court where they will be brutalized win or lose. The opt out is an NDA and money. There are also marginal and fake claims that companies choose to buy their way out of. 

    Apple cannot disclose and most likely cannot agree to disclose once the agreement is signed. Nor can the other party. This is just like those who think the App Store commissions are too high. You cannot agree to something and then decide you do not like it and want it to change. 

    The fastest growing demographic is soft people who want the world to revolve around them.  
    You didn't explain at all how the NDA protects both sides, only how it protects the company.  Being brutalised in court has nothing to do with an NDA.

    And no one is asking Apple to disclose anything, they're asking Apple to release people from their NDA commitment, which they can certainly do.
    ronn
  • Reply 14 of 23
    These are legally binding documents approved by a court it's not as simple as apple releasing them it will have legal ramifications for apple and may void other legal protections they have such as voiding trade secrets or other disclosure agreements current and former employees signed.  

    Apple has no reason nor do the employees or courts have a single reason to release these as both parties signed them not under duress, in the right state of mind and could be reviewed by counsel before signing. 
    First of all NDA's are not approved by the courts, these are Documents drawn up by the company and employee are asked to sign in exchange for employment at the company. May time companies also have employee sign them again upon leaving to ensure they keep their month shut about what they have worked on. It is sometime hard to get exiting employees to sign them. The only time it usually works is if the company terminate you for any reason like a layoff and they hold severance pay as the reason to sign. This is not pay owed to you but what the company is willing to pay for you to keep you mouth shut. Generally companies can not force you to sign without giving you something in exchange for your agreement to sign.

    In this case these activist want Apple not to use NDA when they settle with someone about any sort of harassments claims or other bad activities that may happen. If you file a claim against the company and they choose to settle with you and as part of that settlement is you get money and are required to sign an NDA on what happen. Apple does not have to give up the requirement for and NDA in this case. If someone wants to speak out against Apple and what happen to them they are free to do so, but they can not take the money or sign the NDA. Just walk out and tell everyone your story the company can not stop you, however, you better have all your fact straight, because if you say something which is libel you could find yourself in world of hurt.

    This is the problem, people want to make a claim, then collect money for what happen because the feel they were wrong and want compensated and then tell everyone what happen and take down the company and others. If people feel that strong about what happen and think it should be known, then quit the job, do not pass go and collect $200 and feel free to tell anyone you like and file your claim in court and fight it out in public so it fully document for the world to see. Most people rather take the month and sell out their so call principles and do not care if someone else is hurt behind them. 
    edited September 2021 gatorguy
  • Reply 15 of 23
    ronnronn Posts: 662member
    "In California, employees technically have the right to discuss sex discrimination. But there’s nothing that protects those who go public with experiences of racism..."

    Once Gov. Newsome signs the "
    Silenced No More Act," discussing racial discrimination won't be prohibited. Apple should have agreed to this as being stubborn will only give itself a bad rap.
  • Reply 16 of 23
    Read the article again. Apple Legal stated that the actions being requested by the investor group were already covered in the Business Conduct Policy. If that is true, then Apple is already doing the right thing; and they're doing a further good thing by refusing to modify policy documents when it isn't necessary.

    If Apple Legal is incorrect, or is perceived by this investor group to be incorrect, further waves will be made.
  • Reply 17 of 23
    What is likely going on is some entitled employees aren't up to par and when they are told about it or disiciplined, they complain and mislabel it as harassment rather than get better at their job. Discipline is not retaliation. 

    Good thing Jobs isn't around. The man had a gift for eviscerating people. 
  • Reply 18 of 23
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    What is likely going on is some entitled employees aren't up to par and when they are told about it or disiciplined, they complain and mislabel it as harassment rather than get better at their job. Discipline is not retaliation. 
    What are you basing this on, and why would you think it is "likely"?
    ronn
  • Reply 19 of 23
    No NDA I've ever signed is enforceable when it comes to illegal acts by the company.  If (and frankly, I think that's a huge "if") Apple is willfully covering up illegal harassment, then anything in the NDA that relates to that harassment is out the window.  That includes any requirements for non-judicial arbitration.

    The law simply does not permit a company to shut employees up about the company's illegal activities.

    At least, not here in Kentucky.  Maybe California is backwards in that respect, I don't know.
    gatorguy
  • Reply 20 of 23
    ronn said:
    "In California, employees technically have the right to discuss sex discrimination. But there’s nothing that protects those who go public with experiences of racism..."

    Once Gov. Newsome signs the "Silenced No More Act," discussing racial discrimination won't be prohibited. Apple should have agreed to this as being stubborn will only give itself a bad rap.
    The sooner newsom is ousted, the better. Foolish laws like that only embolden a culture that uses racism as an excuse for too many things. Unfortunately, racism is real and it isn’t only pointed toward one race. Also unfortunate are foolish laws designed to protect those who manipulate the “race card” in the last year we have seen criminals destroy property and commit serious domestic terrorism. But they get away with it simply by crying racism. Then they turn around and blame homeowners and shop owners for defending their property. Then they want to defund the barrier that protects an innocent public of all races from the terrorism. 

    Gruesome Newsom out. Otherwise we will just see more and more of this hypocrisy. 

    Apple doesn’t get a bad rap for not doing what manipulators say. Apple only gets a bad rap if it is doing bad things. It’s the manipulators that need to be looked at through this smokescreen of finger pointing. In any workplace there can be isolated legit harassment. But to claim it’s sysemic or part of Apple culture is ignorant and reeks of agenda. 
    OctoMonkey
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