#AppleToo: Digest #53
One of the goals of #AppleToo is to ensure that all those who have not had a voice, all those who sought help and found none, get a voice. Each of the stories included in this digest was submitted by a current or former Apple employee. These stories represent a systemic issue and the need to do better.
We further emphasise that attempting to silence one voice does not silence the voices of all those who suffered, nor does it erase or delegitimise the stories we are sharing. We will continue to share these stories in the hopes that Apple will create a better environment for all its employees, and will be sharing them until we receive resolution.
It is our hope that in sharing these stories, we can bring some resolution. We are honoured to share these stories, and by the trust that each story represents. Even one story is too many. Each story is a person who suffered, and in many cases, continued to suffer in a hostile environment.
We are publishing these stories in batches of five because the emotional weight of them is substantial. They represent five parts of the larger story of systemic issues that must be addressed.
No support from management
In our store, our managers have had the opportunity to each take two or more weeklong+ vacations in the past 3 months. While I support the need to unwind from a job, the concept that they continue to profit off of employee labor begins to become draining. Coupled with the idea that half of management opts to work from home while we cannot. When Management is on a vacation, we are left with underpaid leads who have to step in while customers record us, hurl slurs, or threaten us over mask policies.
Predatory behaviour by a manager
After joining a team of managers for the Apple Online Store, it became clear that one of my new peers was a predator. He still works at Apple and has not received any repercussions despite multiple complaints. Some examples include —
He would consistently pressure younger female direct reports to go to lunch off of campus with him. These direct reports were afraid that if they did not go, they would not be considered for lead or manager roles due to “not getting along with their future peers” or “not being a team player”. One even went as far as being coerced into texting with this manager after hours and agreeing to a date, despite him being her direct manager.
In this organization, we held group interviews for all new hires. This particular manager consistently only wanted to hire young women who all had similar looks. Anyone that did not fit his type was immediately written off for vague reasons. Because he was one of the more tenured managers, we were pressured to go along with it despite having raised attention to the issue to our shared manager.
Our organization would often mix up team members and move them to new managers within the same department. This manager would always make sure that his team was composed of younger women and positioned as many as possible to sit next to him in the office (we have low cubicles).
When these concerns were raised to our shared upper management, myself and another female colleague were written off. We were gaslit and told that as the newest members of the management team, we just didn’t understand this manager’s way of doing things and that he means well. We were told to stop being dramatic and to not be so emotional.
There are endless stories of this manager being inappropriate with their direct reports and exhibiting predatory behavior. It is unfortunate that a company that used to have such prestige supports such disgusting activities.
I’ve been personally attacked by a manager multiple times.
Retaliation for speaking out
(Note: This story has been lightly edited.)
[A manager] was heard bragging about getting all senior specialists booted from the On Call team when we all complained to management about his advisor’s backfill . The entire senior specialist team went to leadership about [the advisor’s] lack of performance yet he was promoted to senior specialist and we were all removed from on call rotation.
I’ve been in Apple Retail for over a decade. It started off as a temporary job to help me pay for college. It grew into a job that I’m still at today. However, I didn’t realize how it has negatively impacted my mental health and the lack of support I’ve received from my leadership and the company has exacerbated my mental health further.
Prior to store closer, due to the pandemic, I knew I was dealing with mental health issues. However, I didn’t know where it stemmed from. I sought professional help and participated in therapy. But I still struggled. I was always anxious, depressed, and stressed. My weight fluctuated, I was irritable, and had constant thoughts and plans of suicide. I was constantly approached by leadership always telling me that I’m in a bad mood, not a team player, and a drag on the team. They never offered support, but just provide me with negative feedback.
I went well outside my job scope to support the store. Creating material for our staff to understand Genius Bar procedures and basic troubleshooting. I helped on the sales floor, did admin duties, helped operations, and even support leadership when they’d disappear off the floor for a few hours each week to have their meetings. I ever never giving positive feedback for this. However, if I made the smallest mistake and it was noticed, I was pulled aside and told to do better and how my small mistake hurt the team and the customer experience.
Fast forward to store closure. The Genius Bar team was first asked to volunteer to support Apple Care by doing At Home Advisor (AHA) work. But there were some requirements. Reliable internet, internet speed, and a dedicated quiet space where you wouldn’t be disturbed. I didn’t have a dedicate space because of my current living situation so I told them I wasn’t eligible to support.
My store leader called me and told me I didn’t have a choice, I had to make space and join the program or I’d have to go on unpaid leave. I called the People Team (HR) and told me it was up to my leadership team and market. They were of no help. So I bought a desk and shoved it into my already small room which left me with no walking space. My iMac arrived and I started the program. They gave me 3 days of training and only covered customer service, not how the new tools worked. I told my “team manager” that I wasn’t ready to go live because I didn’t understand the tools and I was overcome with anxiety. My team manager told me there is not additional training and I had to go live. So I did what I was told. I went live and I was lost. I didn’t know any of the procedures or how the tools worked, how to contact senior advisors or any of that. I was an anxious mess. Mid way through one of my calls, I ran to the restroom to vomit because I was nervous. I called out of that shift.
I tried again the next day and I was still lost. I asked for help from my team manager and they told me “Everyone else is fine” and asked why I was having a difficult time. I tried to explain and I was told “stop giving excuses.” I called my store leader who told me there is nothing store leadership can do and I just have to do my job or go on unpaid leave. I called HR again and they were no help, telling me that I have to work with my team manager.
My mental and physical health started to stuff. I was anxious. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating. Whatever I ate, I’d through up because of my nerves. Every time I asked for help I wasn’t given any. I was heavily contemplating suicide because I felt my life and happiness didn’t matter to anyone one. I called Sedgwick and opened a claim. My doctor took me out of work so I could focus on myself.
I found out from another employee that they entered a webex room for my store leader to have a conversation and the store leader wasn’t on mute and was on a phone call with another manager. They were talking about me and saying I was faking my illness just to get out of work. I brought this up to HR and they “investigated it”.
Nothing came of that investigation. My doctor wrote a strongly worded letter to HR and my store leader saying I was to be removed AHA and allowed to do the at home trainings that the sales people were doing or he would keep me on leave until the store opened again. He never heard a response from either of them so he kept me out on leave which I was thankful for.
When I heard news of the store opening, he released me back to work. On my first day back to work, my store leader wanted to have a conversation with me in private. I went into the office. I was asked if I was fit to be at work. I stopped the conversation and I told my store leader I don’t feel comfortable talking to my own leadership seeing as they acted like my physical and mental health issues were fake just so I could get out of work and I was looking to transfer stores because this current store was toxic. My store leader didn’t appreciate how I hung my leadership out to dry with the information I found out about.
I applied for a store transfer, but I kept getting turned down. I found out my store leader was keeping my from transferring. It was making my life miserable. I toyed with the idea of quitting, but I wouldn’t be able to survive without a job. I looked for other jobs and many places were still closed and not hiring. I reached back out to HR and they told me to talk to my markets People Buisness Partner about my issues.
I talked to him and he was shocked to hear what I was going through. I told him I really just wanted to transfer out of my store and I didn’t care if it was for sales or whatever. He was my only hope and he worked on getting me out of my store and into another store. Apparently there is still and investigation going on with my ex store leader but they are still working.
I think if I would have stayed at that place, I would have lost my life because they caused my mental health to suffer. It was extremely toxic. I much happier at my current store. It’s not perfect, but at least I’m not actively being judged on my mental illness.
I’m one of the lucky few to of had one person in upper management listen to me and help me. But the constant back and forth with my store leader, HR, and my incapable team manager put a toll on my mental health and really made me see the ugly beast this company is.