Apple has just fired a senior programming engineer for allegedly leaking confidential information - though it's not exactly clear what she leaked. She claims the IP issue is a ruse, and that's she's actually being let go because of her constant harping about workplace safety issues.
According to the Verge, the program manager, Ashley Gjovik seemingly complained about everything under the sun. She accused her superiors of harassment, she spoke out against Apple's increasingly comprehensive surveillance of its employees (once claiming Apple had "photos of my boobs" after insisting she turn over text messages), and she even made a stink about the fact that her office was located in an Apple building on a superfund site.
Sooo, #Apple has pics of my boobs. During a discovery thing 3yr ago, legal forced me to hand-over all my texts. They refused to let me delete anything, even "fully personal," even when I said "by fully personal I mean nudes." They said they're in their "permanent evidence locker"— Ashley M. Gjøvik (@ashleygjovik) August 19, 2021
I questioned this aggressively. Apple R&D pressures us to have one iPhone for work & personal (so we can "live on" / dogfood). I said, if there's texts that aren't with employees and have nothing to do with work, I should be able to delete them or at least attachments. "Nope."— Ashley M. Gjøvik (@ashleygjovik) August 19, 2021
Gjovik was placed on administrative leave in early August - a leave she claims she requested - while Apple "investigated" some of her claims.
Earlier this week, a member of Apple's employee relations team reached out to Gjøvik earlier today saying the company was looking into a sensitive intellectual property matter and wanted to speak to her within the hour.
Hey #Apple, "This feels a little like witness intimidation. I let @NLRB know." Love, Ashley— Ashley M. Gjøvik (@ashleygjovik) September 9, 2021
Clutches panic button & Mace while still laying on floor pondering the brutality of U.S. capitalism... pic.twitter.com/Q7eS8ZoYNQ
Given that Gjøvik had already filed an NLRB complaint against Apple, she replied that she wanted to keep all communication in writing and noted that she would forward the correspondence to the NLRB. The representative responded by saying that since she had refused to cooperate, Apple would move forward with the information it had.
And "given the seriousness of these allegations" her access to Apple systems was suspended.
A few hours later, she received an email saying her employment had been terminated effective tomorrow.
From the looks of it, Gjovik shared her correspondence with Apple HR with reporters from a handful of tech websites. She also published redacted copies of the correspondence on Twitter. Tech journalists love employees that fit Gjovik's profile: women willing to accuse their employers of allowing harassment and bullying.
Without any evidence, these same fawning journalists are now accusing Apple of firing Gjovik in retaliation for filing a complaint with the NLRB.
Finally: yes indeed, the @ashleygjovik story is now on the docket for Friday's tech news roundup on @BosPublicRadio at 1:15-ish. The irony that Apple fired her during the week of Labor Day, allegedly as retribution for filing a NLRB complaint, should be lost on no one.— Andy Ihnatko (@Ihnatko) September 10, 2021
For anybody who's interested in learning more about the feud between Gjovik and Apple, she has compiled details of the sage in a Medium post where she claims that the issues started in March when she first "raised issues about workplace safety." It includes links to dozens of news stories about her claims, along with snippets of correspondence between her bosses, other Apple employees, and even politicians. At one point, she claimed her coworkers were keeping a "scoreboard" to try and make her quit.
If nothing else, the Bay Area's tech workforce will likely become preoccupied with the whole saga as many reflexively take her side.