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Apple fires employee Janneke Parrish, leader of #AppleToo movement

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Apple has fired one of the leaders of #AppleToo, an employee movement organized in response to alleged patterns of discrimination, racism and sexism at the company.

The tech company terminated Janneke Parrish, a program manager on Apple Maps, for “non-compliance” after she deleted personal files from her work device – including apps such as Google Drive, Robinhood and Pokémon Go – amid an internal investigation.

Some employees within the company viewed the firing as retaliation for Parrish’s role as an organizer, according to the Verge, which first reported on the firing.

Related: Lawmakers seek to rein in big tech with bills aimed at competition and liability

Parrish, who worked at Apple for five years, said she believed she was fired for speaking out publicly about issues within the company as a leader of the #AppleToo movement.

“I’ve been very vocal, I’ve been very public. I have not been afraid to put my name and attach my face to #AppleToo,” she told the Guardian. “This feels very much like retaliation for having the courage to speak out.”

Parrish’s termination came days after Ashley Gjovik, a former Apple employee fired last month for allegedly leaking information, filed a complaint against the company with the National Labor Relations Board. Gjovik, who had been sharing allegations of harassment while working at Apple, claims the company’s employee rules as well as the CEO Tim Cook’s pledges to crack down on leakers violate US law.

In September, Parrish says the company had informed her that she was under investigation for leaking information to the media. Parrish had been involved with employee advocacy efforts at Apple for months, but did not leak information, she said.

As part of the investigation, Apple confiscated her devices. Apple encourages employees to use work devices as personal devices, Parrish said, and before handing over devices she deleted files that contained personal information, such as financial data. Parrish said she did not expect to be fired, but believed her work with #AppleToo would have a negative impact on her career.

“We have a culture of secrecy and loyalty to the company. Speaking out … is seen as fundamentally disloyal,” she said. “I knew from the moment I spoke out that my career at Apple would be more or less done.”

Apple said in a statement on Friday that it does not discuss matters related to specific employees.

“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 and, out of respect for the privacy of any individuals involved, we do not discuss specific employee matters.”

The notoriously secretive company has been rocked by public displays of dissent from its workforce in recent months as workers across the tech industry call for greater accountability from their employers.

In August, a group of workers, including Parrish, launched #AppleToo, a campaign to gather and share current and past employees’ experiences of inequity, intimidation and abuse. The initiative came after workers tried to address complaints with company leadership internally, organizers say.

Through that campaign, workers have uncovered systemic issues at every level of the company, Parrish said, in which employees who experienced discrimination, bias and retaliation and voiced their concerns were ignored.

“I don’t see how anyone could be aware of that and not take action to improve it,” Parrish said.

Cher Scarlett, another leader of #AppleToo, filed a complaint with the NLRB in September, accusing the company of stopping her effort to conduct pay transparency surveys. Scarlett also said she had been doxxed by a colleague for pushing for pay transparency.

“Apple does not care about its employees. It cares about money,” Scarlett told the Washington Post. “Maybe that’s capitalism, and that’s just the way corporations are. But I can’t live my life further accepting it and not saying something about it.”

#AppleToo says it has gathered accounts from more than 500 workers who say they were subjected to discrimination and sexual harassment at work, allegations they say they shared with management but were left unaddressed.

“One of the goals of #AppleToo is to ensure that all those who have not had a voice, all those who sought help and found none, get a voice,” Parrish wrote in a post sharing several workers’ stories. “These stories represent a systemic issue and the need to do better.”

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