From #AppleToo to Apple Together

Time to think equitable.

Cher Scarlett
Published in
9 min readDec 3, 2021


Think equitable

One of the things that struck me in such a difficult and raw way when my colleagues started reaching out from all over the world in June was how surprised I was that things that I experienced at Blizzard could possibly be happening at Apple. I thought of the company as the anomaly in Big Tech; the only one I’d ever consider working for. It wasn’t my experience, sure, but worse, I didn’t see headlines in the past, and missed many that came alongside #AppleToo.

We’ve read hundreds of stories from current and former Apple workers anonymously, and Janneke and I have read hundreds more from others who just wanted someone to talk to. We’d like to take a moment to revisit some of the coverage of former Apple workers, and what they faced at the company, that you may have missed. Please take the time to read the linked stories of each of these individuals, or groups.

1. Catherine Vartuli (2019)

Ex-employees slam Apple with lawsuits claiming age and gender discrimination amid an unprecedented wave of worker activism within the company

Vartuli said she complained of the pay gap to her manager in spring 2019 and was shortly after placed under investigation. In June 2019, Apple accused Vartuli of using her work laptop for personal interests and then fired her without severance on July 5, saying she violated Apple’s business conduct and employee use policy.

2. Christine Dehus (2021)

Tim Cook Faces Surprising Employee Unrest At Apple

Ms. Dehus, who worked at Apple to mitigate the impact of mining valuable minerals in conflict zones, said she had left Apple after spending several years fighting a decision to reassign her to a role that she said had involved more work for less pay. She said Apple had begun trying to reassign her after she complained that the company’s work on the minerals was not, in some cases, leading to meaningful change in some war-torn countries.

3. Barbara “Dawn” Underwood (2019)

The #AppleToo campaign received ‘hundreds’ of complaints from retail staff. One ex-employee alleging harassment and assault is pursuing a $1.7 million lawsuit*

She claims in her lawsuit that management failed to deal with her repeat allegations of sexual harassment, assault, and “verbal, emotional, and physical abuse” against a male coworker, who is also listed as a defendant in the suit, alongside a number of her former colleagues.

*TW: This story contains discussion of suicidal thoughts.

4. Bernadette Alexander (2019)

Apple executive accused of bullying out older employees for young talent in recent lawsuit

Alexander, the finance director who filed a lawsuit earlier this year against Apple through the same lawyer as Vartuli, claims that instances of ageism and harassment were overlooked and sidelined. She was terminated last Thursday after more than 13 years at Apple.

5. Anita Nariani Schulze (2021)

Apple Faces Knock in Engineer’s South Asian Bias Suit

Her complaint alleges that her senior and direct managers, both male, consistently excluded her from meetings while inviting her male counterparts, criticized her, micromanaged her work, and deprived her of bonuses, despite positive performance evaluations and significant team contributions.

6. Janneke Parrish (2021)

Employee fired by Apple files NLRB charge alleging retaliation by iPhone maker

Shortly after Parrish was questioned over videoconference, she said a courier showed up to her Austin-area home to collect her company-owned iPhone and laptop. Parrish said she deleted some apps and files before her devices were collected by the courier, including the augmented reality game “Pokémon Go” and Google Drive, because those apps contained personal information.

Janneke was also subjected to anonymous targeted harassment and abuse. Here’s more of her story in her own words:

“My story, like all the stories here, is one of speaking out at one of the world’s largest companies, and asking, simply, that they do better. My story is one of hundreds, both public and private, known and unknown, heard and unheard, but we all hit the same note — we have asked this company that so prides itself on being a good place to work to uphold internally that promise that it portrays externally. We ask, simply, that Apple be what it seems, to pay people what their work is worth, to end discrimination, retaliation, and silencing, and to recognise our rights as workers, and as human beings. When we speak together, we are heard.

When we are heard, even the largest companies must listen. I’m proud to be part of Apple Together, and honoured to be a part of a movement that gives us all a voice.” — Janneke Parrish

7. Darla Drendel (2017)

Apple Can’t Dodge Suit Claiming Sex-Bias for Canceled Contract

The managers asked the owner, Darla Drendel, to come to Apple headquarters for a meeting and when she arrived were “rude and dismissive,” the cleaning service said.

A few months later, an Apple manager made the comment about her being “pushy” in a phone call with her husband, according to the complaint.

In 2017, after Drendel notified Apple of $1.5 millions in unpaid invoices, the tech giant terminated the contract, according to the cleaning service.

8. Kate Rotondo (2020)

Apple’s Fortress of Secrecy is Crumbling From the Inside

She started chatting with peers and found that — of the eight other engineering authors she’d spoken to in her org — she was the lowest paid. She made $10,000 to $15,000 less in base pay than the others at her same job level.

9. Mark Calivas (2021)

Jimmy Bailey, & Apple’s Frontline Workers
Apple’s Frontline Workers are Struggling to Survive*

By all accounts, Mark Calivas was never on her good side. “She hated him, she told me,” the former colleague explains. “She just would constantly talk about how Mark wasn’t good enough, Mark wasn’t special, don’t give that opportunity to Mark because he hasn’t earned it, even though he had done everything to earn it.”

*TW: This story includes details of suicide.

10. Ashley Gjøvik (2021)

An Apple employee on leave after publicly alleging sexism says co-workers kept a scoreboard to make her quit

Gjøvik also claimed an unnamed senior employee yelled at her in public and private, called her an “idiot”, and “locked me in a conf room alone & screamed at me while I cried, & kept threatening to smack me.”

11. Danielle* (2016)

Amanda*, Claire*, & an Apple contractor
Leaked Apple emails reveal employees’ complaints about sexist, toxic work environment

Danielle is an engineer at Apple — and like many of the women in the company, she works on a male-dominated team. On a Tuesday morning in July, when men on her team began to joke that an office intruder was coming to rape everybody, Danielle decided to speak out about what she described as the “very toxic atmosphere” created by jokes about violent sexual assault.

*Danielle, Amanda, and Claire used fake names out of fear of retaliation.

12. Brandon Felczer (2014)

Joseph Lane Carco, Ramsey Hawkins, & Ryan Goldman
Apple Facing Another Class-Action Suit by Employees

“Very often workers were not given meal breaks for seven or eight hours, and sometimes not at all,” said the plaintiffs’ counsel Tyler Belong. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case also claims the company’s policies “allowed Apple to invoke fear into the class members that if they so much as discuss the various labor policies, they run the risk of being fired, sued, or disciplined.”

13. Amanda Frlekin (2013)

& Dean Pelle
Apple Retail Workers Sue Over Unpaid Wages, Overtime

When Frlekin clocked out for her uncompensated meal breaks and at the end of her shift, she alleges she waited for at least five to 10 minutes, without compensation, as other employees had their bags checked, according to the lawsuit. She claims the waiting time totaled about 50 minutes to 1.5 hours a week of unpaid overtime, which over the course of the year came to about $1,500 in unpaid wages, according to the lawsuit.

14. Michael Katz (2010)

Florida man accuses Apple store of age discrimination

“Katz was passed over for promotion multiple times in favor of individuals with less seniority with Apple and inferior qualifications,” the complaint reads. “Katz was not provided with any explanation for his repeated [denial] of promotion opportunities. Rather, his supervisor simply denied that Katz had ever expressed a desire to obtain a Creative position.”

15. Richard Dahan

Tim Cook Faces Surprising Employee Unrest At Apple

Richard Dahan, who is deaf, said he had struggled at his former job at an Apple Store in Maryland for six years because his manager refused to provide a sign-language interpreter for him to communicate with customers, which federal law requires under some circumstances. He said that he had communicated with customers by typing on an iPad, and that some customers had refused to work with him as a result. When he told his manager, the manager said it was the customers’ right, he said.

16. Shaune Patterson (2005)

Here Are 10 Lawsuits Against Apple You Should Know About

“Patterson alleges that the suspension came one day after she complained of racial discrimination,” Mac Observer reported, citing a press release. “Patterson alleges that one of Apples managers wrote a memo describing her as a ‘rather obese-sized black lesbian.’”

17. The 2001 Plaintiff

Apple Hit With Racial Lawsuit

The Apple suit also names Dan Riccio, the plaintiff’s immediate supervisor.

When Riccio took control of the plaintiff’s department, he immediately moved the plaintiff into a separate cubicle away from the rest of his group for no apparent reason, McCoy claimed. At the time, the plaintiff said nothing, not wanting to rock the boat, said McCoy.

18. The 2016 retail worker


Lastly, this veteran staffer describes the routine idiosyncrasies of working for Apple. From the intense compulsory internal feedback from other staff to the death threats from irate customers whose devices don’t work.

19. Trieu Pham (2021)

Censorship, Surveillance and Profits: A Hard Bargain for Apple in China

When Apple managers questioned Mr. Pham, he told them the app didn’t violate any policies. The managers responded that the app criticized the Chinese government, Mr. Pham said in court documents, and that this was enough for rejection.

Six months later, Apple fired Mr. Pham. In response, he sued the company, accusing it of pushing him out to appease the Chinese government.

20. The Apple Maps Workers

What it’s like to work inside Apple’s Black Site

“Being monitored like that is super dehumanizing and terrifying,” says one former Apex mapping technician.

21. Tian Yu (2013)

& Apple plant workers at Foxconn (2010–2016)

What drove an Apple plant worker to attempt suicide?*

Ultimately, 18 workers attempted to take their lives that year, and all but four succeeded. One of those survivors, Tian Yu, has spoken extensively to Jenny Chan, who last month published Yu’s story in the journal New Technology, Work and Employment.

*TW: This story includes details of suicide. Further details on Wikipedia.

22. Jordan Price (2014)

Apple Designer Quits, Blogs About It, Makes Apple Sound Like An Awful Place To Work

Then my immediate boss, who had a habit of making personal insults shrouded as jokes to anyone below him, started making direct and indirect insults to me. He started reminding me that my contract wouldn’t be renewed if I did or didn’t do certain things. He would hover over my back (literally) like a boss out of Dilbert and press me to finish some mundane design task that he felt urgently needed to be examined.

& #AppleToo

A colleague — Ashley Gjøvik — and I connected over her expertise with the law. We later met up with an outside group of organizers to figure out what to do with the increasing number of private messages from victims of hostile work environments within Apple. We had different ideas of what to do with any stories collected, so we quickly parted ways and I built a website and an intake form for our colleagues to choose what they’d like done with their information.

I couldn’t do it alone, and I knew I needed buy-in from others at Apple. I had been invited into an anonymous and unofficial Apple employee Discord server, and thought a group of a dozen or so administrators might be interested. I shared what I’d built with them for feedback, and within minutes, Vice reached out for comment. I laugh at the irony, but with that, #AppleToo was launched.

Thankfully, Janneke Parrish reached out and offered to help, and to field some of the publicity.

I care about doing the right thing, and I know that’s what we did.

As I leave behind Apple employment, I’m here to continue to support the next chapter of organizing: Apple Together.

🖤 xoxo 🖤,