Protesters close Chicago Apple Store over Palestinian employee firing

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A small group of demonstrators disrupted the Lincoln Park Apple Store in Chicago on Saturday to protest Apple's use of labor in Africa and its disciplining of at least one employee wearing pro-Palestinian clothing items.

Apple store in Lincoln Park, Chicago



The protest, which took place Saturday, was peaceful but resulted in the store closing early, with a heavy police presence afterwards. A group called Apples4Ceasefire staged the protest, alleging that a Palestinian employee at the store was wrongly terminated for wearing accessories supporting the Palestinian people, including the traditional keffiyeh.

The group, which claims some 300 members who say they are current or former Apple employees, said the firing at the Lincoln Park store was not an isolated incident.

"In fact, anyone who has dared to express support of the Palestinian people in the form of kaffiyehs, pins, bracelets, or clothing, has been actioned against under the guise of breaking business conduct' and creating a harmful environment," the letter said.

The protest was sparked by the firing of former Lincoln Park store employee Madly (pronounced "Medley") Espinoza, who specifically asked Apple managers if it was allowed to wear a keffiyeh at work, and received permission to do so. As the conflict in Gaza dragged on, she was asked not to wear it anymore.

Espinoza switched to wearing pro-Palestinian jewelry, again after getting permission from managers, along with some 40 other employees who wore similar accessories. She was later fired and the others reprimanded, and told her actions were "too political."

The open letter from the group, titled Apples4Ceasefire, claims it is disappointed and in shock at "the lack of care and understanding this company has given the Palestinian community, not only abroad suffering in Gaza, but also twards our own team members and anyone who supports them within our stores and offices."

BREAKING: Apple Store closes in Chicago amid pro-Palestinian protest

Protesters entered the Apple Lincoln Park store in Chicago today, chanting "Free, free Palestine" inside in a demonstration against the tech company. A protester distributed flyers reading "Stop Exploiting DR pic.twitter.com/X5fV1TgDzT

-- Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene)



In addition to protesting the firing of the employee, the dozen or so protesters in the store also demanded that Apple leave the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where some rare earth and other materials are mined. The group released a letter asking CEO Tim Cook to acknowledge the deaths of civilians in Gaza, as he did in a letter to employees about Israeli deaths after the initial Hamas attack.

A group of Google employees have also protested against the search giant's decision to fund an Israeli tech conference held last month in New York. One Google Cloud engineer was fired by the company after disrupting a talk at the event.



Read on AppleInsider

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    Nice to see that Apple's bad decisions have repercussions.
    ronnOfergrandact73
  • Reply 2 of 22
    chasmchasm Posts: 3,328member
    Is it? Is it really a bad decision to stay well clear of both sides in this screwy mess where there is ZERO chance of doing anything but alienating customers?

    I disagree with Apple Store management barring the keffileh, it long pre-dates the current conflict and is simply a cultural identifier. But actively sporting political accessories -- for any political position -- really doesn't have a place in a retail store environment IMO.
    StrangeDayselijahgteejay2012macguistompybyronlmike1omasoutimpetusroundaboutnow
  • Reply 3 of 22
    chasm said:
    Is it? Is it really a bad decision to stay well clear of both sides in this screwy mess where there is ZERO chance of doing anything but alienating customers?

    I disagree with Apple Store management barring the keffileh, it long pre-dates the current conflict and is simply a cultural identifier. But actively sporting political accessories -- for any political position -- really doesn't have a place in a retail store environment IMO.
    Well Apple likes to claim it has morals.
    ronngrandact73
  • Reply 4 of 22
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,912member
    chasm said:
    Is it? Is it really a bad decision to stay well clear of both sides in this screwy mess where there is ZERO chance of doing anything but alienating customers?

    I disagree with Apple Store management barring the keffileh, it long pre-dates the current conflict and is simply a cultural identifier. But actively sporting political accessories -- for any political position -- really doesn't have a place in a retail store environment IMO.
    Well Apple likes to claim it has morals.
    And it’s up to the company to decide which issues they participate in, not the staff. I’m opposed to Israel’s occupation and horrific bombing campaign and systemic numerous other war crimes, but the place to speak about this is on your own time, not the company’s. 
    edited April 7 tobianteejay2012muthuk_vanalingamshrave10byronltimpetusroundaboutnowjbdragon
  • Reply 5 of 22
    RyBreadRyBread Posts: 6member
    Nice to see that Apple's bad decisions have repercussions.
    The children protesting this should instead focus on being meaningful members of society. Apple is in the right here, 100%. It's a controversial and complicated war that Isreal didn't want or start, and Apple employees shouldn't be showing any visible support for one side.
    NickoTTmacseekerneillwdelijahgmagman1979mike1timpetusCesar Battistini Mazierojbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 22
    The gentlemen chanting who is against using child labor for lithium mining. As you can see he is holding a cell phone in his hand.
    I am sure it has a lithium battery in it. Hypocrite! 
    jbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 22
    zeus423zeus423 Posts: 247member
    Yet another example of why companies should keep out of anything remotely political. Likewise, politicians should stay out of anything remotely business.
    cyberdine 101timpetusCesar Battistini Mazierojbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 22
    quazzequazze Posts: 32member
    People need to grow the fk up. Go to work and leave your morals and beliefs at the front door. If you can’t handle that, work somewhere else. 

    You are there to perform a job, not express your personal beliefs.
    cyberdine 101zeus423iOS_Guy80mike1Cesar Battistini Mazierojibjbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 22
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,367member
    Apple management at that store did make a bad decision — allowing employees to wear pro— political jewelry. Granting permission makes it tough to rescind it.

    Make political statements off the clock. Not on it. Did Apple give Espinoza the opportunity to conform to a required dress code? IDK. If offered the opportunity, did Espinoza comply or refuse? IDK. She asked permission and it was granted on two instances, according to the story.

    I would think store management would consider that fact before terminating someone's employment. Did they? Again the article doesn't say. If Apple said they changed their mind, and show up for work tomorrow, politically unadorned, then that's what employees would need to do. I'd want to know more before vilifying Apple or giving them a pass.
    shrave10Cesar Battistini Mazierowatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 22
    nubusnubus Posts: 412member
    I’m opposed to Israel’s occupation and horrific bombing campaign and systemic numerous other war crimes.

    There can be no support for those electing terrorists or those supporting a government responsible for war crimes (Israel hasn't been found guilty - it is just @StrangeDays that decided Israel is guilty).

    Now, the government elected by the Palestine people were behind the terror attack. No way Apple could ever allow employees to show support for a people electing terrorists on repeat. Apple did the right thing to stop such politics from entering. There is however no policy against neutral scarfs or wearing a kippah.
    mike1watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 22
    chasm said:
    Is it? Is it really a bad decision to stay well clear of both sides in this screwy mess where there is ZERO chance of doing anything but alienating customers?

    I disagree with Apple Store management barring the keffileh, it long pre-dates the current conflict and is simply a cultural identifier. But actively sporting political accessories -- for any political position -- really doesn't have a place in a retail store environment IMO.
    Well Apple likes to claim it has morals.
    And it’s up to the company to decide which issues they participate in, not the staff. I’m opposed to Israel’s occupation and horrific bombing campaign and systemic numerous other war crimes, but the place to speak about this is on your own time, not the company’s. 
    Apple is happy to feature “cultural signifiers” as worn by employees in their videos and other materials when the celebrate their diversity. So their “decision to participate” here is just rank hypocrisy. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 22
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,363member
    Although some would disagree with the rainbow flag waving of Apple, which is highly political, it can be argued that is different than war.  War, of course, being much more "life & death" in a daily basis for a long period of time.  People supporting either side of a given conflict can get more riled than people would over sexual preferences.  So I disagree with Godofbiscuitssf that this is "rank hypocrisy."  It's not.  Apple sees sexual preferences as somewhat culturally acceptable in 2024 USA, while opinions about war are not.

    Was Apple right in firing this employee in light of the fact the employee had been given permission in the recent past?  In order to determine that, we need more facts.  For example, if the employee had been told by managers at the store they could wear certain things, but later upper management in Cupertino decided otherwise regarding a policy for all stores, then it would boil down to how Apple spoke to this employee.  Personally, I would have treated it very delicately, apologizing to the employee for conflicting information, but letting them know that rules handed down by Cupertino are the final word.  If the employee heard and understood that but continued to wear the symbols anyway, they should be given a formal warning, but no further action.  If the employee continued to disobey, they should be given a second warning and asked to go home for one work day.  If they returned to work and continued to ignore the rules, then and only then should they be fired.  That is how I personally would have handled it.

    But I am surprised anyone gets fired anymore with the crazy USA being as litigious as it is.  But I guess Apple employee's have to sign a lot of legal documents to become an employee that prevents many lawsuits against Apple in the event that employee is ultimately fired.
    muthuk_vanalingamroundaboutnowwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 22
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,736member
    nubus said:
    I’m opposed to Israel’s occupation and horrific bombing campaign and systemic numerous other war crimes.

    There can be no support for those electing terrorists or those supporting a government responsible for war crimes (Israel hasn't been found guilty - it is just @StrangeDays that decided Israel is guilty).
    Two wrongs never make a right. If the police had tracked a murderer to an apartment building which couldn't easily be evacuated, would they be justified in demolishing the whole building? Assuming every Palestinian supports what Hamas did is the same as assuming every American would knowingly support what their government did in Iran. Generalizing about any ethnicity has devastating consequences, as the Jewish people know all too well. Yet we keep making the same mistakes.

    timpetusronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 22
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,917member
    Now we all know when and how Hamas-Israel conflict started. If Hamas did not murder innocent Israelis unaware and simply enjoying music event, this conflict would not have started.
    If Apple gave permission to any employee to wear anything politically biased especially external to America, is not a good decision. When you allow to wear one thing like keffileh; he/she will wear more or do more in that direction thinking they have permission from Apple. 
    Americans are not killed so none in America should be allowed to disrupt in any form American businesses in America or day to day life in America. Go to Gaza or Israel as humanitarian volunteer if you want to help.


    Cesar Battistini Maziero
  • Reply 15 of 22
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,736member
    wood1208 said:
    Now we all know when and how Hamas-Israel conflict started. If Hamas did not murder innocent Israelis unaware and simply enjoying music event, this conflict would not have started.
    If Apple gave permission to any employee to wear anything politically biased especially external to America, is not a good decision. When you allow to wear one thing like keffileh; he/she will wear more or do more in that direction thinking they have permission from Apple. 
    Americans are not killed so none in America should be allowed to disrupt in any form American businesses in America or day to day life in America. Go to Gaza or Israel as humanitarian volunteer if you want to help.
    It goes back much further than that, with wrongs committed on both sides. But I do agree that "protesting" simply by wearing things which incite anger isn't helpful. That said, one doesn't have to go to the other extreme of giving up their life to become a volunteer either. There's a middle ground to be found where we can have constructive discourse about the war, learn about history and each other, in hopes of finding a solution rather than putting more anger and judgement out there.
    muthuk_vanalingamCesar Battistini Maziero
  • Reply 16 of 22
    NYC362NYC362 Posts: 84member
    Apple enforces what they call "Brand Standards."    When you work in a retail Apple Store, you agree to uphold those standards.  

    As far as your person is concerned, that means you are not wearing anything with any sort of logo outside of your Apple t-shirt or black "track jacket."   For sometime, I wore a couple of pins on my black jacket- one was of Snoopy in his orange space suit.  Despite the Snoopy in Space cartoon on Apple TV+, I was eventually told not to wear that as it was against brand standards. 

    Nit picking?  Yea, for sure.  But the real issue was if I could do that, then others can wear things to their liking.  I didn't like having to take that pin off.  But I understood why. 

    keffiyeh is not a religious item.  They have been worn in the many desert areas for millennia.  Their real purpose to be able to drape it across your face to protect against blowing sand.   On the other hand, a Hijab is part of Islamic tradition.  I worked with at least two people who wore a Hijab.  I should also note, Apple stores when necessary, provided a private space for those employees who needed one for prayer time. 


    auxiojbdragon
  • Reply 17 of 22
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 3,592member
    How can Apple support a government who murders and tortures people who believe what Tim Cook believes?

    Hamas executes people for being gay, and because hundreds of Palestinians have had to flee to Israel just to pursue being gay. "Sharia courts have also been set up where homosexuals are threatened with the death penalty by stoning, burning and hanging.  These courts also declare persons suspected of homosexuality to be ‘outlaws’, who can be murdered with impunity. It is also reported that the PA police regularly inflicts appalling torture on homosexuals."
    jbdragon
  • Reply 18 of 22
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,736member
    How can Apple support a government who murders and tortures people who believe what Tim Cook believes?
    Interesting that you consider having a different sexual orientation a "belief".

    Hamas executes people for being gay, and because hundreds of Palestinians have had to flee to Israel just to pursue being gay. "Sharia courts have also been set up where homosexuals are threatened with the death penalty by stoning, burning and hanging.  These courts also declare persons suspected of homosexuality to be ‘outlaws’, who can be murdered with impunity. It is also reported that the PA police regularly inflicts appalling torture on homosexuals."
    Which is absolutely horrific, but still isn't justification for doing the same in turn to them.
    muthuk_vanalingamronn
  • Reply 19 of 22
    You need to use the uniform provided by Apple. And keep your personal opinions for out of work hours.

    Apple is perfectly right here. 

    Imagine losing a sale over an employee using a bracelet that goes against what the costumer believes.

    Imagine an employee using a bracelet saying that being gay is a sin, is that allowed?




    jbdragonzeus423
  • Reply 20 of 22
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,311member
    What happens when employees start wearing Pro Isreal objects?  Do we get to watch Apple Employees fighting each other?  What you do on your off time is one thing.  What you are doing on the job is supposed to be working and representing Apple.   If you are going to break the rules, YES you should be FIRED.  That store is a private business.  Though walking through with their signs need to be thrown out also.  They have no right to do that inside the Apple store.  if they want to do that Outside on the Public sidewalk, great.  But you can't block the doorway and customers from going in/out either.

    zeus423muthuk_vanalingam
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