U.S. labor officials found that Apple Inc. executives ran afoul of labor law, after they made remarks and set rules that allegedly chilled employee efforts to address workplace issues.
The National Labor Relations Board on Monday said that its regional offices “found merit” in four charges alleging that Apple’s AAPL,
Kayla Blado, a spokeswoman for the board, also said that a regional office “found merit to a charge alleging statements and conduct by Apple — including high-level executives — also violated the National Labor Relations Act.”
When a labor board office finds merit in such a charge, it can prosecute the charge if the parties in a dispute don’t settle. That prosecution would take place before an administrative law judge, whose ruling could be appealed to the labor board and, then, federal appeals court, Blado said.
The news was reported earlier in the day by Bloomberg. Apple did not immediately respond when asked by MarketWatch for comment.
The allegations stemmed from complaints made to the board in 2021 by a former Apple employee, Ashley Gjovik, who was fired that year, Bloomberg said. Gjovik said that she’d expressed concerns related to workplace health risks, and that she was harassed and told not to discuss those concerns, and fired in retaliation for those allegations, Bloomberg said. Apple had said Gjovik was violating the company’s policy surrounding the disclosure of confidential product information, Bloomberg said.
Gjovik in 2021 also accused Apple of illegal behavior after Chief Executive Tim Cook, in an email, promised to crack down on anyone who leaked confidential company information. She also pointed to company policies that she said kept staff from disclosing “business information,” Bloomberg reported.
The news was reported after Apple, following pressure from investors, said it would assess company efforts to comply with its human rights policy “as it relates to workers’ freedom of association and collective bargaining rights” by the end of the year. Other regulators have weighed in on allegations that the company has tried to control what employees said about their departures.
The action from the labor board follows efforts to unionize in some of Apple’s retail stores, amid a larger wave of union organizing last year.
Shares of Apple have declined 18% over the past 12 months, and finished 2% lower on Monday. The S&P 500 index SPX,