Apple has a strict NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreements) for all of its employees to protect its trade secrets. This prevents workers from sharing internal details of Apple’s products and processes. However, according to a group of activists and Apple shareholders, it also prevents them from speaking out about working conditions. The group has been trying to improve the situation for Apple employees. They plan to do this by making clear exceptions to the NDA on workplace harassment and discrimination.
As reported by TheVerge, they have even filed a shareholders resolution to put pressure on Apple. According to Ifeoma Ozoma, the company used the Apple employee handbook as an excuse to say no. The group said this wasn’t acceptable, but haven’t heard back from them. Ozoma is a co-sponsor of the Silenced No More Act, which protects employees from workplace misconduct, even if they’ve signed an NDA.
The Silenced No More Act is close to becoming law. With this, Ozoma has been actively trying to get tech companies to include the following terms in their Apple employee agreements:
“Nothing in this agreement prevents you from discussing or disclosing information about unlawful acts in the workplace, such as harassment or discrimination or any other conduct that you have reason to believe is unlawful.”Ifeoma Ozoma, proposed employee agreement terms
Apple lawyers have refused to add these terms, saying that it’s already covered in its Business Conduct Policy. In the past, many tech companies have shied away from including such clauses in their contracts. This includes major companies such as Pinterest and Alphabet (Google’s parent company), which had to pay millions in lawsuit settlements for their mistakes.
Apple employee NDA concerns
A month ago, Apple employees raised concerns over the company shutting down employee-run surveys on pay equity. Essentially making it difficult for them to discuss wages and working conditions. This is highly concerning as Apple’s internal misconduct policy is strict, even by tech industry standards. Apple employees could be fired for “Engaging in activities or behaviors that violate Apple policies,” “Interfering or failing to cooperate with an investigation,” and “insubordination.”