Women speaking out against Apple’s handling of conduct complaints
Megan Mohr was five years into her career at Apple when, in 2013, a male colleague took advantage of her after a platonic night of drinking together.
After the colleague drove her home and helped her inside, she briefly fell asleep before waking up to the sound of a click. The colleague had taken off her shirt and her bra. He was taking pictures and smiling.
Mohr had previously had a bad experience with human resources – known internally as the Apple People group – when another colleague broke into her accounts and harassed her, leading her to file a police report. . HR didn’t listen well or help in any way, she says, so this time she didn’t bother. “I was afraid of retaliation and I knew HR wouldn’t have my interests at heart,” she says.
But inspired by the #MeToo movement, Mohr decided at the end of 2018 to inform Apple of the incident of the illicit photos. She had no evidence and was not calling for an investigation. She just thought HR should be aware of the character of the person and asked that they never be placed in the same department.
Mohr thought it was a modest request, but the email exchange seen by the Financial Times quickly became rigid and defensive. The HR representative showed little empathy or experience with sexual misconduct. He likened his experience to “a minor traffic accident” to explain how Apple couldn’t really get involved.
“While what he did was wrong as a person and potentially criminal, as an Apple employee, he did not violate any policies in the course of his work at Apple,” HR wrote. “And because he didn’t violate any policies, we won’t restrict him from pursuing employment opportunities that match his goals and interests.”
Mohr was not asking for the colleague to be punished, knowing that she could not prove her assertions. But to his surprise, HR suggested the evidence wouldn’t really matter anyway.
“Unfortunately, the incident was not in the context of Apple’s work [so] it is very likely that an investigation by Apple would have yielded ‘no findings’ and no disciplinary action would be taken,” HR told him. “Even though the offender would have admitted to taking the footage.”
An HR professional with 25 years’ experience, who declined to be named, called the response “shocking”, adding that in his experience: “Behaviours like this often come from a culture, they don’t come out of nowhere.
Mohr quit her job at Apple as a fraud prevention specialist in January after 14 years, frustrated with its bureaucracy, secretive culture and what she perceived as fewer opportunities for women. Now she’s asking Apple to carefully review its policies. “I just want Apple to be the company it claims to be for its customers,” she says.
A matter of priorities
In interviews with 15 current and former Apple employees, the Financial Times found that Mohr’s frustrating experience with the People group resonates in at least seven Apple departments spanning six US states.
The women shared allegations of Apple’s apathy over misconduct complaints. Eight of them say they experienced retaliation, while seven found HR disappointing or counterproductive.
This story is based on these interviews and discussions with other employees, internal emails from Apple’s People team, four exit contracts written by Apple attorneys, and anonymous employee reviews.