Ashley Gjovik, a senior engineering program manager at Apple, was fired this week for violating company rules against leaking private company information. The issue, is that what Gjovik leaked included various accounts of workplace harassment, sexism, and intimidation that she alleges have taken place at Apple. The company has yet to address any of the claims in full, other than announcing that the leak was why Ashley Gjovik was let go.
For months on her Twitter page, Gjovik has shared stories about the kinds of information and surveillance gathered by employees at Apple. The company placed her on administrative leave in August before the news that she was fired this week.
“When I began raising workplace safety concerns in March, and nearly immediately faced retaliation and intimidation, I started preparing myself for something exactly like this to happen,” she told The Verge. “I’m disappointed that a company I have loved since I was a little girl would treat their employees this way.”
In one of her leaks from mid-August, Gjovik claimed that she had to hand over all of her text messages and refused to let her deleted anything personal. “‘Even when I said ‘by fully personal I mean nudes,'” she explained, “They said they’re in their ‘permanent evidence locker.'”
“I questioned this aggressively,” she said. “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. I told them having to share them w/ my employer was a horrific violation of my privacy.”
“They told me that my employment contract requires I participate fully in any investigations,” Ashley Gjovik alleged. “Send nudes or get fired?”
Right before she was let go Thursday morning, she received an email from a member of the Apple employee relations team, who said that they were responding to an “intellectual property matter” as part of a “Threat Assessment and Workplace Violation.”
Ashley Gjovik had been with the company since 2015, and had reportedly filed many formal complaints with federal regulations after senior members would exclude her from certain meetings or attempt to hide the hazing of new employees.
“I’ve heard through the rumor mill that my organization is talking about ‘The Ashley Issue’ in staff mtgs and offering HR support (ironic),” she wrote in mid-August. “I assume that means they don’t plan on having me back then…or ever.”
Her first unanswered complaint was placed in March, after she learned that the office sat on a site known for its history of waste contamination. She filed reports with the National Labor Relations Board, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and California’s state labor commissioner’s office.
Apple spokesperson Josh Rosenstock later responded to The Verge, writing that, “We are and have always been deeply committed to creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive workplace.”
“We take all concerns seriously and we thoroughly investigate whenever a concern is raised,” Rosenstock continued. “Out of respect for the privacy of any individuals involved, we do not discuss specific employee matters.”
The statement is quite ironic, in that Apple refuses to speak about the investigation over a “respect for the privacy of any individuals,” despite Ashley Gjovik’s claim being that the company did not respect her privacy.
It’s an especially ironic stance due to Apple’s latest commercial campaign that markets the “privacy” features of their technology over their competitors. In one of their advertisements, the company boasts a new feature that allows users to choose who can track and store your information, as the song urges people to “mind your own business.”
“I love Apple products and worked tirelessly to help ensure Apple creates exceptional customer experience,” Gjovik said. “Me as a little girl playing on my G3 Tower would have never dreamt that company would fire me for advocating for employee rights and labor conditions. I feel betrayed.”